Crop Biotech Update

Identification of Key Genes Conferring Low Cadmium Accumulation in Barley Grains

October 28, 2015

Understanding the mechanism of low cadmium (Cd) accumulation in crops is crucial for sustainable and safe food production in Cd-contaminated soils. A research team led by Hongyan Sun of Zhejiang University in China recently discovered a distinct difference in Cd accumulation and tolerance between the two barley genotypes: W6nk2, a low-grain-Cd-accumulating and Cd-sensitive genotype, and Zhenong8, a high-grain-Cd-accumulating and tolerant genotype.

Analysis detected large-scale changes of gene expression in response to Cd stress with an obvious difference between the two genotypes. Cd stress led to higher expression of genes involved in transport, carbohydrate metabolism and signal transduction in W6nk2. Novel transporter genes such as zinc transporter genes were identified as being associated with low Cd accumulation.

Furthermore, suppression of the zinc transporter genes HvZIP3 and HvZIP8 showed increased Cd accumulation and reduced Zn and Mn concentrations in barley grains. Thus, HvZIP3 and HvZIP8 could be candidate genes related to low-grain-Cd-accumulation.

For more information on this study, read the article in BMC Plant Biology.