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Work Packages

The project has five distinct work packages.

These workpackages are broken down as follows.

WP1: Chemical standards, inter-lab calibration, validation, ring testing on biological materials.

Three distinct profiling approaches systems in concert with trace element analysis have been selected as a basis for development and validation of high throughput approaches to plant compositional and nutrient analysis. These approaches represent the state-of-the-art within the current research milieu. They represent the most immediate and readily accessible way forward for multiple metabolite, nutrient and trace element determination. The technologies will be validated against the existing, legislatively approved and industrially accepted single metabolite and nutrient methods. The validation materials will be potato, wheat and tomatoes grown under different locations and agricultural regimes. Along side the crop samples standards of all available metabolites and nutrients will also be run for comparative and confirmatory purposes. Provision of these plant materials and validated non-targeted profiling approaches thus represent the main deliverable of WP1.

Leader - Paul Fraser

WP2 - Database Construction and integration of multi dimensional data in an easily accessible format.

The application of combined established and state-of-the-art profiling approaches will generate a phenomenal amount of qualitative and quantitative data; m/z+, fragment ions, Retention times, NMR shifts etc. To utilise this as a phenotyping platform or to identify focal points of nutrient/metabolite/trace element change in the food chain the data from these studies must be in an accessible form that contains multiple format (GC-MS, LC-MS, NMR, ICP, FT-IR etc) data. Currently there are no databases that combine the existing MS databases such as Wiley, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)[1]. The Centre For Chemical & Bioanalytical Sciences (RHUL and NIST, a project Technology Associate) will be used to build upon experience gained from previous and ongoing profiling project (SAFEFOODS, NOFORISK, EU-Sol etc) and together fused to facilitate the formation of a new hybrid multiple format metabolite/nutrient/trace element database. Thus the databases containing multiformat-derived data for specific crops containing detailed growing and post-harvest manipulation information as well as detailed analytical data are required and form the main deliverable of WP2 and Palisade Complete etc, with newer metabolomic and trace element data. In addition the existing databases tend to be technique specific so do not allow crosstalk with regard to other technique derived data for the same compound, extract etc. The ability to cross reference multiple data streams is imperative if conclusions decisions are to be made regarding reducing progeny numbers in a breeding pool or addressing processes to minimise nutrient loss during transportation and processing. The way to address this is via a bio-informatics approach. Experience from the construction of and addition to, established-format MS databases (by for example The Centre For Chemical & Bioanalytical Sciences [comprising a combined RHUL and NIST, project Technology Associate, effort) will be used to build upon experience gained from previous and ongoing profiling project (SAFEFOODS, NOFORISK, EU-Sol etc) and together fused to facilitate the formation of a new hybrid multiple format metabolite/nutrient/trace element database. Thus the databases containing multiformat-derived data for specific crops containing detailed growing and post-harvest manipulation information as well as detailed analytical data are required and form the major deliverable of WP2.

[1] NIST Standard Reference Database, Palisade Complete

Leader - John Halket

WP3 - Emerging technologies and their impact as high throughput screening approaches for plant breeding and metabolite and nutrient analysis.

A combination of emerging technologies, including, FT-MS, MALDI-TOF-MS, LC-(SPE)-NMR & ECD detection amongst others, will be applied to selected potato, wheat and tomato samples (pre- and post-processing) previously analysed by the approaches outlined in A1. These technologies potentially offer several advantages to the profiling approaches with respect to speed of throughput, robustness, quantification, large dynamic concentration range, breadth of metabolite and nutrient coverage. These emergent technologies are still at the research-based stage but it is imperative to assess their capabilities against the established and state-of-the-art technologies. In addition these technologies will help identify gaps, if any, in the data acquisition of the profiling technologies. Undoubtedly where these emergent technologies will score is with respect to metabolite profiling and the characterisation of the unknown compounds. Some of the technologies are not emergent with respect to the science but to their application in this arena. For example FT-IR is now considered a mature technique but only recently has it been applied to population screening [2] and metabolic profiling. Similarly electrochemical detection (ECD) is well established in analytical fora but as a quantitative detector for profiling approaches, remains relatively untested. The application of these emerging technologies to high throughput analysis will form the main deliverable of WP3.

[2] Dunn, W.B. and Ellis, D. 2005. Trends in Analytical Chemistry 24, 285-294. Johnson, H.E. et al. 2003. Phytochemistry 62, 919-928.

Leader - Derek Stewart

WP4 - Provision of biological material and Practical demonstrations.

Building upon the deliverables outlined in A1 & 2 practical demonstration of the profiling technologies will be carried out on each of the selected staple crops. Each will be sampled at harvest and a several points through the food processing chain (farm-to-fork) to ensure that all aspects that may impinge on metabolite and nutrient content are accounted for, such as storage transportation handling etc. For each crop there will be at least two end points of foodstuffs in the food chain; potatoes – fries and mash; tomato – paste; wheat – bread and pasta. These are staple food products within Europe, arguably the top three. Figures from FAO[3] in 2002 show that if food attributed to potato, tomato and wheat are assessed in terms of yearly tonnage then the reported totals are 28,776,360, 10,722,519 and 37,612,792 Mt respectively. The corresponding figure for rice (milled equivalent) at 1,929,306 Mt shows how relevant the crops and associated foodstuffs chosen for study here are to the European diet. The enormous tonnage values for these crops means that a practical demonstration is essential since the introduction of any nutritionally enhanced germplasm into the marketplace would have a significant impact on dietary intake. The main deliverable of WP4 is therefore a practical demonstration of the high throughput technologies at determining changes in metabolites and nutrients from farm to fork.

[3] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Leader - Luigi Cativelli

WP5 - Management and outreach.

DEVELONUTRI exemplifies an integrated approach to plant nutrient and compositional analysis and ultimately human nutrition and food safety. It establishes close links between the assessment, management and communication of metabolite and (anti)nutrient composition which could prove beneficial or deleterious. An essential component of this is the interplay and intercommunication between analytical experts, food technologists and those intimately involved in the food industries, nutritional and clinical fora and legislative arenas. Frequent interaction with all these stake holders, including of course, the consumer will be perfomed using various formats with different degrees of complexity. Directly measurable outputs will come in the form of refereed and popular articles, websites and flyers, presentations at conferences, meetings with food agencies and legislators; direct contact with the food and transportation industries and their dissemination networks. In addition the establishment of a metabolite, nutrient and trace element database will be a web-based undertaking that will allow others outwith the project to access the data freely and interact with the project proposers. This will form the major deliverable of WP5.

Leader - Giovanni Giuliano