Metabolic engineering of bread wheat improves grain iron concentration and bioavailability

Jesse T. Beasley, Julien P. Bonneau, Jose T. Sánchez-Palacios, Laura T. Moreno-Moyano, Damien L. Callahan, Elad Tako, Raymond P. Glahn, Enzo Lombi, Alexander A. T. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)
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Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is cultivated on more land than any other crop and produces a fifth of the calories consumed by humans. Wheat endosperm is rich in starch yet contains low concentrations of dietary iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn). Biofortification is a micronutrient intervention aimed at increasing the density and bioavailability of essential vitamins and minerals in staple crops; Fe biofortification of wheat has proved challenging. In this study we employed constitutive expression (CE) of the rice (Oryza sativa L.) nicotianamine synthase 2 (OsNAS2) gene in bread wheat to up-regulate biosynthesis of two low molecular weight metal chelators - nicotianamine (NA) and 2'-deoxymugineic acid (DMA) - that play key roles in metal transport and nutrition. The CE-OsNAS2 plants accumulated higher concentrations of grain Fe, Zn, NA and DMA and synchrotron X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM) revealed enhanced localization of Fe and Zn in endosperm and crease tissues, respectively. Iron bioavailability was increased in white flour milled from field-grown CE-OsNAS2 grain and positively correlated with NA and DMA concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1514-1526
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


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