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Biofortified wheat variety could help stem nutrient deficiency in Africa, Asia

| | October 11, 2018

Nutrient deficiency in one’s diet is a common problem around the world, where different populations may lack a sufficient source of varying nutrients needed to stay healthy.

Thus, regular fortification, where mineralized forms of the nutrients are added to bread dough, has long been a staple in many countries. But there are still plenty of populations, especially in rural areas of Africa and Asia, where they only grow their wheat locally and thus [can’t fortify] their crops.

[T]he amount of genetic variation within the cultivars when it comes to iron, zinc, and related compounds is rather low …. Wild relatives and other related species have been the main go-to in order to find alternative mineral-accumulating traits that also don’t reduce yields or other characteristics.

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The combined approach has been to look for mutant varieties that …. can serve as a base for introducing stronger micronutrient production genes. Researchers with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska …. decided to take up the task at hand and see if they could create just such a cultivar.

[T]his experiment showcased the ability to create a winter wheat cultivar with higher bioavailability of micronutrients like iron and zinc …. we might finally have a way to supply wheat that can help meet nutritional needs in places lacking food access to those necessary micronutrients.


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