Genetic Approaches for Iron and Zinc Biofortification and Arsenic Decrease in Oryza sativa L. Grains

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Abstract or Summary

Rice is the staple diet to half of the world’s population, being a major source of carbohydrates, vitamins, and some essential elements. However, rice naturally contains low amounts of essential minerals such as iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn), which are drastically decreased after milling. Thus, populations that consume mostly rice may have micronutrient deficiency, which is associated with different diseases. On the other hand, rice irrigated by flooding has a high ability to accumulate arsenic (As) in the grain. Therefore, when rice is grown in areas with contaminated soil or irrigation water, it represents a risk factor for consumers, since As is associated with cancer and other diseases. Different strategies have been used to mitigate micronutrient deficiencies such as Fe and Zn and to prevent As from entering the food chain. Each strategy has its positive and its negative sides. The development of genetically biofortified rice plants with Fe and Zn and with low As accumulation is one of the most promising strategies, since it does not represent an additional cost for farmers, and gives benefits to consumers as well. Considering the importance of genetic improvement (traditional or molecular) to decrease the impact of micronutrient deficiencies such as Fe and Zn and contamination with As, this review aimed to summarize the major efforts, advances, and challenges for genetic biofortification of Fe and Zn and decrease in As content in rice grains.

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