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Scientists Crack A Code that Could Help Nourish the World
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: September 26, 2018 06:49AM

Iron deficiency anemia affects 2 billion people around the world,
particularly in low-income countries where grains are the staple. Efforts to
discover exactly how plants regulate the amount of iron they take up through
their roots are now being led by Massachusetts Amherst molecular biologist
Elsbeth Walker.

Walker explains that plants have a regulatory mechanism to keep their iron
content at a certain level, which makes it hard to make them carry more
iron. Iron is an oxidant and causes cellular damage if not carefully
controlled. Plants evolved signaling systems to communicate iron status in
their tissues. Walker is now working to understand these signals. She is
focusing on yellow-striped corn, a mutation whose stripes indicate iron
starvation. Walker is sequencing the genome to find out where the mutation

"There's no iron in the grain of rice," explains Walker. "There's iron in
the leaves, but we don't eat the leaves. So we have to figure out how to get
the iron to a place in the plant that we eat."


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