J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2018, Vol. 60 ›› Issue (12): 1181-1198.

Special Issue: Rice Genomics and Agriculture

• Invited Expert Reviews •

Molecular processes in iron and zinc homeostasis and their modulation for biofortification in rice

Yuta Kawakami and Navreet K. Bhullar*

1. Plant Biotechnology, Department of Biology, ETH Zurich, Universitaetsstrasse 2, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland

*Correspondence:

Email: Navreet K. Bhullar (bhullarn@ethz.ch)
• Received:2018-08-16 Accepted:2018-11-21 Published:2018-12-01

Abstract: More than a billion people suffer from iron or zinc deficiencies globally. Rice (Oryza sativa L.) iron and zinc biofortification; i.e., intrinsic iron and zinc enrichment of rice grains, is considered the most effective way to tackle these deficiencies. However, rice iron biofortification, by means of conventional breeding, proves difficult due to lack of sufficient genetic variation. Meanwhile, genetic engineering has led to a significant increase in the iron concentration along with zinc concentration in rice grains. The design of impactful genetic engineering biofortification strategies relies upon vast scientific knowledge of precise functions of different genes involved in iron and zinc uptake, translocation and storage. In this review, we present an overview of molecular processes controlling iron and zinc homeostasis in rice. Further, the genetic engineering approaches adopted so far to increase the iron and zinc concentrations in polished rice grains are discussed in detail, highlighting the limitations and/or success of individual strategies. Recent insight suggests that a few genetic engineering strategies are commonly utilized for elevating iron and zinc concentrations in different genetic backgrounds, and thus, it is of great importance to accumulate scientific evidence for diverse genetic engineering strategies to expand the pool of options for biofortifying farmer-preferred cultivars.

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