Increasing the zinc content of cereal grains will be important for improving human nutrition. Improved plant zinc efficiency will lead to increased yields when available zinc is limiting plant growth. The aim of our work was to test how the over-expression of zinc transporters in cereals affects plant growth, seed mineral content, and zinc transport rates. Known zinc transporters from Arabidopsis were over-expressed in Hordeum vulgare cv. Golden Promise by means of a ubiquitin promoter. Multiple transgenic lines were obtained, and the locus number and expression levels were verified. Transgenic lines were tested in long-term growth and short-term uptake experiments. Seeds from transgenic lines grown in soil had higher zinc and iron contents than controls. Short-term uptake rates were higher in the transgenic lines after zinc deprivation. Resupply of zinc after a period of deprivation resulted in the rapid decrease in zinc uptake even in transgenic lines in which a zinc transporter gene was constitutively expressed. Similar to processes in yeast and Arabidopsis, we hypothesize that this rapid decrease in zinc transport activity may be caused by the degradation of transporters in response to zinc-sufficient conditions. In the long-term growth experiments, there were no significant differences between transgenic and control lines in leaf zinc content or shoot biomass under zinc-sufficient or -deficient conditions. However, root-to-shoot ratios were higher in the transgenic plants grown under low-zinc conditions; this could impact zinc acquisition under field conditions. Increased seed zinc and iron content by over-expression of a zinc transporter provides a new strategy for increasing the micronutrient content of cereals.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 10, 2004
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