Scientists Discover Mutation In Peas That Can Increase Iron Levels

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Researchers at the John Innes Center in England have achieved a groundbreaking genetic breakthrough by identifying the genetic sequence for two high-iron mutations in peas using a recently developed map of the pea genome. This discovery opens the door to the possibility of creating iron-fortified vegetables and cereal crops, potentially addressing global health challenges related to anemia.

Researchers identify mutation that increase iron in crops

The research has identified potential opportunities in understanding mutations that could help increase iron levels in various crops. This discovery holds promise for gene editing strategies in agriculture. Janneke Balk, a professor at the John Innes Center and the author of the study, emphasizes the significance of this finding in improving crop production.

This breakthrough offers potential solutions to address the widespread problem of iron deficiency, particularly affecting females globally, including the United Kingdom. The issue is compounded by the growing trend of reduced meat consumption due to climate change concerns.

Iron deficiency anemia, marked by insufficient iron levels in the body resulting in a reduction of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, is a significant health concern.

Researchers used RNA sequencing to identify genes expressed in high-iron pea plants compared to wild-type plants. Computational mapping and plant experiments pinpointed specific mutations and their locations on the pea genome. This discovery of subtle genetic changes opens avenues for biofortification, offering possibilities such as breeding peas with higher iron content or creating supplements with a more bioavailable iron for thus reducing side effects linked to chemical iron supplements.

New discovery can help fortify plants like wheat

The identification of high-iron pea varieties provides insights into plant iron transport and utilization, applicable to biofortify crops like wheat. These discoveries, derived from various plant species, enable modern gene-editing and breeding for enhanced iron levels. The mutations found are crucial as they allow high iron levels without endangering plant viability, revealing valuable regulatory mechanisms.

Scientists were puzzled by mutations in pea genes for years, hindered by the genome’s vast size but a breakthrough occurred four years ago. Identifying mutated genes related to iron homeostasis opens avenues for scientific progress and practical enhancements in producing iron-rich food.

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