Biotech Updates

New Transporter Identified to Help Balance Zinc and Iron Homeostasis in Maize

March 9, 2022

A maize transporter responsible for the regulation of iron and zinc in balance in maize was identified by a team of Chinese scientists. The discovery provides opportunities for genetic resources and a theoretical basis for developing iron-fortified corn varieties.

Scientists from the Biotechnology Research Institute and Qingdao Agricultural University were responsible for identifying the novel iron-regulated transporter ZmIRT2. The transporter was involved in reversing growth defects involving both zinc and iron uptake in mutant yeast. More importantly, its expression in maize caused zinc and iron accumulation in the roots, shoots, and seeds. Further analysis showed that ZmIRT2 along with ZmIRT1 and ZmYS1, other transporters, previously identified by scientists, all function cooperatively to maintain zinc and iron homeostasis, and that ZmIRT2 and ZmIRT1 function together to mediate iron update in roots.

This discovery can help maize breeders understand the mechanism of iron absorption in plants and lead to the development of better varieties with high iron contents.

To learn more, read the article published in Plant Cell and Physiology and the news release from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

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