Experts Explore Genetic Basis of Micronutrients in Tropical Maize
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp
Date: April 11, 2023 10:45AM
Researchers from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, reported that micronutrient deficiency is the major culprit of hidden hunger, which demands consumption of foods enriched with enough amount of bioavailable micronutrients.
Malnutrition, particularly micronutrient deficiency, has been linked with anemia, fatigue, blindness, and 17% of deaths in children younger than five years in developing countries. Other alarming symptoms of micronutrient deficiency include stunted growth in babies, low immunity to infections, and slow brain development. One of the ways to address malnutrition is to biofortify maize, which is grown in many developing countries, requires low production cost, and is widely used in processed foods. Maize grains are composed of 72% starch, 10% protein, 4.8% fat, 8.5% dietary fiber, 3% sugar with no anti-nutrients. However, most maize varieties have low amounts of vitamin A, iron, and zinc.
In the study, the researchers crossed 24 yellow to orange tropical maize with those with low to high levels of zinc and provitamin A. The inbred lines were grouped into six sets of crosses which were used as parents to generate 96 hybrids. Inbred lines and hybrids were planted in isolated trials, and then agronomic and micronutrient traits were recorded.
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