Journal Articles

Health Modifying Regions in the Oat (Avena sativa) Genome Responsible for Beneficial Effects on Immune and Gastrointestinal Health

May 11, 2017

Weston Woodrow Bussler 1,2, Katelyn Dezego 1,4, Mikayla Bowen 1,5, Ashley Buige 1,5, Debora Esposito 1,3, Mary Ann Lila 1,2 and Slavko Komarnytsky 1,2 (2017). Health Modifying Regions in the Oat (Avena sativa) Genome Responsible for Beneficial Effects on Immune and Gastrointestinal Health. The FASEB Journal 31(1).

Author Affiliations

1 Plants for Human Health Institute, North Carolina State University, Kannapolis, NC
2 Food Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
3 Animal Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
4 Catawba College, Salisbury, NC
5 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC


Genetic association studies have long been used to connect traits of interest to loci in crop genomes and guide breeding of superior plants. This technology has been used to increase yield, shelf life, sensory appeal, and environmental stress resistance. Our recent work has shown that human health modifying regions (HMRs) can be identified using the same approach and incorporated into commercial crops to maximize the health potential of food. The genes found within an HMR can be investigated for contribution to bioactive metabolite synthesis and regulation in the plant. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a non-curable pathology of the gastrointestinal system characterized by recurring bouts of inflammation and persistent damage to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Treatments for IBD are designed to help manage symptoms and maintain remission by preventing bouts of unencumbered inflammation or promoting healing of damaged tissue regions. Little is known about how various bioactive components from food impact IBS, but bioactive compounds in oats have shown ability to reduce inflammation and have been associated to promoting overall gastrointestinal health. We screened oat extracts from 115 genetically diverse breeding lines for their ability to modulate inflammation and induce cell migration into areas of injury in cell culture models of gastrointestinal health. Using a genome wide association study (GWAS), we associated each phenotype to loci on the oat genetic linkage map and identified specific candidate genes connected to metabolite biosynthesis and regulation. The identification of these HMRs will help guide future efforts to improve oat nutritional value for gastrointestinal health.

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