Rice and most staple cereals contain low iron (Fe) levels, most of which is lost during grain processing. Populations with monotonous diets consisting mainly of cereals are especially prone to Fe deficiency, which affects about two billion people. Supplementation or food fortification programs have not always been successful. Crop Fe fertilization is also not very effective due to Fe soil insolubility. An alternative solution is Fe biofortification by generating cultivars that efficiently mobilize, uptake and translocate Fe to the edible parts. Here, we review the strategies used for the Fe biofortification of rice, including conventional breeding and directed genetic modification, which offer the most rapid way to develop Fe-rich rice plants. While classical breeding is able to modify the contents of inhibitors of Fe absorption, transgenic approaches have focused on enhanced Fe uptake from soil, xylem and phloem loading and grain sink strength. A comprehensive table is provided in which the percentages of the recommended dietary Fe intake reached by independently developed transgenic plants are calculated. In this review we also emphasize that the discovery of new QTLs and genes related to Fe biofortification is extremely important, but interdisciplinary research is needed for future success in this area.
Sperotto, R.A.; Ricachenevsky, F.K.; de Abreu Waldow, V.; Palma Fett, J. Iron biofortification in rice: It’s a long way to the top. Plant Science (2012) 190: 24-39. [DOI: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2012.03.004]