This study was conducted to assess the role of increasing N supply in enrichment of whole grain and grain fractions, particularly the endosperm, with Zn and Fe in wheat. The endosperm is the most widely consumed part of wheat grain in many countries. Plants were grown in the greenhouse with different soil applications of N and Zn and with or without foliar Zn spray. Whole grain and grain fractions were analyzed for N, P, Zn and Fe. Increased N supply significantly enhanced the Zn and Fe concentrations in all grain fractions. In the case of high Zn supply, increasing N application enhanced the whole grain Zn concentration by up to 50% and the endosperm Zn by over 80%. Depending on foliar Zn supply, high N elevated the endosperm Fe concentration up to 100%. High N also generally decreased the P/Zn and P/Fe molar ratios in whole grain and endosperm. The results demonstrate that improved N nutrition, especially when combined with foliar Zn treatment, is effective in increasing Zn and Fe of the whole grain and particularly the endosperm fraction, at least in the greenhouse, and might be a promising strategy for tackling micronutrient deficiencies in countries where white flour is extensively consumed.
Journal of Cereal Science (2011) 53 (1) 118-125 [doi:10.1016/j.jcs.2010.10.006]