Wheat, like many other staple cereals, contains low levels of the essential micronutrients iron and zinc. Up to two billion people worldwide suffer from iron and zinc deficiencies, particularly in regions with predominantly cereal-based diets. Although wheat flour is commonly fortified during processing, an attractive and more sustainable solution is biofortification, which requires developing new varieties of wheat with inherently higher iron and zinc content in their grains. Until now most studies aimed at increasing iron and zinc content in wheat grains have focused on discovering natural variation in progenitor or related species. However, recent developments in genomics and transformation have led to a step change in targeted research on wheat at a molecular level. We discuss promising approaches to improve iron and zinc content in wheat using knowledge gained in model grasses. We explore how the latest resources developed in wheat, including sequenced genomes and mutant populations, can be exploited for biofortification. We also highlight the key research and practical challenges that remain in improving iron and zinc content in wheat.
Keywords: nutritional enhancement, cereals, transgenic, genomics, model to crop
Citation: Borrill P, Connorton JM, Balk J, Miller AJ, Sanders D and Uauy C (2014) Biofortification of wheat grain with iron and zinc: integrating novel genomic resources and knowledge from model crops. Front. Plant Sci. 5:53. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00053
Received: 30 October 2013; Accepted: 04 February 2014;
Published online: 21 February 2014.
Edited by:Lorraine Elizabeth Williams, University of Southampton, UK
Reviewed by:Stephan Clemens, University of Bayreuth, Germany
Copyright © 2014 Borrill, Connorton, Balk, Miller, Sanders and Uauy. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
*Correspondence: Cristobal Uauy, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org