Biofortification of field-grown cassava by engineering expression of an iron transporter and ferritin (Nature Biotech)

There are many forms of hunger, one of which is micronutrient deficiency. Cassava is a staple food, but low in iron and zinc, in many regions where deficiencies of these micronutrients are common; therefore efforts have been made to biofortify cassava. Traditional breeding methods are of limited value as there is little genetic diversity in cassava for iron and zinc accumulation, so transgenic approaches may be more effective. By introducing genes encoding an iron transporter (IRT1) and ferritin (FER1), Narayanan et al. were able to produce cassava that “accumulated iron levels 7–18 times higher and zinc levels 3–10 times higher than those in nontransgenic controls in the field” without negatively affecting shoot and root biomass. (Summary by Mary Williams) Nature Biotech. 10.1038/s41587-018-0002-1