Biotech Updates

Overexpression of AtVIT1 Increases Accumulation of Iron in Cassava

October 7, 2015

Iron uptake in plants is limited due to its low solubility in neutral or alkaline soils. This is why plants rely on rhizosphere acidification to increase iron solubility. AtVIT1 gene from Arabidopsis thaliana was previously found to be involved in mediating vacuolar sequestration of iron.

Narayanan Narayanan, from Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in the US, led scientists in studying the overexpression of AtVIT1 in cassava (Manihot esculenta). Under greenhouse conditions, iron levels in mature cassava storage roots showed 3–4 times higher values compared to wild-types. The transgenics also showed higher iron concentrations in young stems and stem base tissues. However, young leaves of transgenic plants exhibited iron deficiency characteristics and had lower iron concentration compared to the young leaves of wild types.

These results demonstrate a viable transgenic strategy to biofortify crops and to help eliminate micronutrient malnutrition.

For more on the study, read the article in Plant Science.