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Front Plant Sci. 2011 Nov 17;2:80. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2011.00080. eCollection 2011.

Physiological limits to zinc biofortification of edible crops.

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  • 1The James Hutton Institute Dundee, UK.


It has been estimated that one-third of the world's population lack sufficient Zn for adequate nutrition. This can be alleviated by increasing dietary Zn intakes through Zn biofortification of edible crops. Biofortification strategies include the application of Zn-fertilizers and the development of crop genotypes that acquire more Zn from the soil and accumulate it in edible portions. Zinc concentrations in roots, leaves, and stems can be increased through the application of Zn-fertilizers. Root Zn concentrations of up to 500-5000 mg kg(-1) dry matter (DM), and leaf Zn concentrations of up to 100-700 mg kg(-1) DM, can be achieved without loss of yield when Zn-fertilizers are applied to the soil. It is possible that greater Zn concentrations in non-woody shoot tissues can be achieved using foliar Zn-fertilizers. By contrast, Zn concentrations in fruits, seeds, and tubers are severely limited by low Zn mobility in the phloem and Zn concentrations higher than 30-100 mg kg(-1) DM are rarely observed. However, genetically modified plants with improved abilities to translocate Zn in the phloem might be used to biofortify these phloem-fed tissues. In addition, genetically modified plants with increased tolerance to high tissue Zn concentrations could be used to increase Zn concentrations in all edible produce and, thereby, increase dietary Zn intakes.


Arabidopsis; bean; cassava; maize; potato; rice; wheat; zinc

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