Iron biofortification and homeostasis in transgenic cassava roots expressing an algal iron assimilatory protein, FEA1

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Year:
2012
Type of Publication:
Article
Keywords:
iron, FEA1, cassava, biofortification, Chlamydomonas, malnutrition
Authors:
Journal:
Frontiers in Plant Physiology
Volume:
3
Number:
171
Month:
9/13/12
BibTex:
Abstract:
We have engineered the tropical root crop cassava (Manihot esculenta) to express the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii iron assimilatory gene, FEA1, in its storage roots with the objective of enhancing the root nutritional qualities. Iron levels in mature cassava storage roots were increased from 10 to 36ppm in the highest iron accumulating transgenic lines. These iron levels are sufficient to meet the minimum daily requirement for iron in a 500g meal. Significantly, the expression of the FEA1 gene in storage roots did not alter iron levels in leaves. Transgenic plants also had normal levels of zinc in leaves and roots consistent with the specific uptake of ferrous iron mediated by the FEA1 protein. Relative to wild-type plants, fibrous roots of FEA1 expressing plants had reduced Fe (III) chelate reductase activity consistent with the more efficient uptake of iron in the transgenic plants. We also show that multiple cassava genes involved in iron homeostasis have altered tissue-specific patterns of expression in leaves, stems, and roots of transgenic plants consistent with increased iron sink strength in transgenic roots. These results are discussed in terms of strategies for the iron biofortification of plants.
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