Increasing the grain zinc (Zn) concentration of staple food crops will help alleviate chronic Zn deficiency in many areas of the world. Significant variation in grain Zn concentration is often reported among collections of cereals, but frequently there is a concomitant variation in grain yield. In such cases grain Zn concentration and grain yield are often inversely related. Without considering the influence of the variation in grain yield on Zn concentration, the differences in grain Zn concentration may simply represent a yield dilution effect. Data from a series of field and glasshouse experiments was used to illustrate this effect and to describe an approach that will overcome the yield dilution effect. In experiments with a wide range of bread wheat, synthetic hexaploids and accessions of durum wheat, variation in grain yield among the genotypes accounted for 30–57% of the variation in grain Zn concentration. Variation in kernel weight also occurred, but was poorly correlated with grain Zn concentration. To account for the influence of variation in grain yield on grain Zn concentration grain Zn yield was plotted against grain yield. By defining the 95% confidence belt for the regression genotypes that have inherently low or high grain Zn concentrations at a given yield level can be identified. This method is illustrated using two data sets, one consisting of bread wheat and one comprising a collection of synthetic hexaploids.
Plant and Soil (2008) 306 (1-2) 49-55 [doi: 10.1007/s11104-008-9555-y]