Micronutrients are essential in the human diet as they are required for key
metabolic reactions and biological functions. A large fraction of the global
human population suffers from micronutrient deficiencies, which has a
negative impact on well-being and economic development.
Biofortification of staple crops is a sustainable and effective approach to
reduce health problems associated with micronutrient deficiencies.
Simrat Pal Singh of ETH Zurich and Switzerland, together with his
NICOTIANAMINE SYNTHASE 2 (OsNAS2) and bean FERRITIN (PvFERRITIN), both as
single genes and in combination.The NAS
catalyzes the synthesis of nicotianamine (NA), a precursor of the iron
chelator deoxymugeneic acid (DMA) required for long distance iron
translocation. On the other hand, FERRITIN is important for iron storage in
Significant increases in iron and zinc content were observed in wheat grains
of plants expressing either OsNAS2 or PvFERRTIN, or both genes.
Specifically, wheat lines expressing OsNAS2 greatly surpass the target level
of 30 percent dietary estimated average requirement (EAR) for iron, and 40
percent of EAR for zinc.
The wheat lines with significant levels of iron and zinc developed in this
study could provide a useful germplasm for developing new wheat varieties
that can reduce micronutrient deficiencies.
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