Rice is a staple food for over half of the world’s population, but it contains only low amounts of bioavailable micronutrients for human nutrition. Consequently, micronutrient deficiency is a widespread health problem among people who depend primarily on rice as their staple food. Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most serious forms of malnutrition. Biofortification of rice grains for increased iron content is an effective strategy to reduce iron deficiency. Unlike other grass species, rice takes up iron as Fe(II) via the IRON REGULATED TRANSPORTER (IRT) in addition to Fe(III)-phytosiderophore chelates. We expressed Arabidopsis IRT1 (AtIRT1) under control of the Medicago sativa EARLY NODULIN 12B promoter in our previously developed high-iron NFP rice lines expressing NICOTIANAMINE SYNTHASE (AtNAS1) and FERRITIN. Transgenic rice lines expressing AtIRT1 alone had significant increases in iron and combined with NAS and FERRITIN increased iron to 9.6 µg/g DW in the polished grains that is 2.2-fold higher as compared to NFP lines. The grains of AtIRT1 lines also accumulated more copper and zinc but not manganese. Our results demonstrate that the concerted expression of AtIRT1, AtNAS1 and PvFERRITIN synergistically increases iron in both polished and unpolished rice grains. AtIRT1 is therefore a valuable transporter for iron biofortification programs when used in combination with other genes encoding iron transporters and/or storage proteins.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 11, 2015
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