3 years ago

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


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 upregulate 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.

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