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Mol Plant. 2018 Jan 8;11(1):23-30. doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2017.08.006. Epub 2017 Aug 18.

Breeding Major Cereal Grains through the Lens of Nutrition Sensitivity.

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Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.
Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA; Shanghai Chenshan Plant Science Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201602, China; Shanghai Key Laboratory of Plant Functional Genomics and Resources, Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden, Shanghai 201602, China. Electronic address:


Cereal grains are the common food staples that collectively provide over 50% of dietary calories and proteins for the world's population. Although the Green Revolution has greatly increased the yield of commercial cereal crops, they often lack nutrients essential for human health in the edible tissues. In developing nutrition-sensitive agriculture, the nutritional quality of cereal grains has been a major target for improvement using breeding and biotechnology approaches. This review examines recent progress on biofortification of micronutrients (provitamin A and folates) and an essential amino acid (lysine) in three major cereal grains, wheat, rice, and maize, through plant breeding. In addition, how natural variations, induced mutations, and the advanced genome-editing technologies can be applied to improving the nutrient content and stability in these cereal grains are discussed. High-yield cereal crops pyramided with improved (micro)nutrient contents hold great promise to meet the increasing demand of nutritionally limited populations and to contribute to achieving sustainable nutrition security.


cereal grains; folates; lysine; nutrition sensitive; plant breeding; provitamin A

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