Special Issue "Biofortification of Crops"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Crop Breeding and Genetics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 October 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Erik Alexandersson
Website
Guest Editor
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Protection Biology, POB 102, Alnarp SE-23053, Sweden
Interests: Functional genomics and ‘-omics’ data in field trials; induced resistance in potato varieties; potato late blight; transcriptomics and proteomics; plant defense; biofortification of cassava; botanicals and plant resistance
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Laura Jaakola
Website
Guest Editor
Universitetet i Tromsø
Interests: anthocyanins; berries; flavonoids; polyphenols; light and temperature effects
Dr. Massimiliano D'Imperio
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA) National Research Council of Italy (CNR)
Interests: malnutrition; in vitro gastro-intestinal digestion process; bioavailability; tailored food; soilless system
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Francesco Di Gioia
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Plant Science, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Interests: sustainable vegetable production; hydroponics; plant nutrition; agronomic biofortification; vegetable quality
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Elizabeth Parkes
Website
Guest Editor
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Interests: breeding; biotechnology; tropical root crops; micronutrients

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

I hereby invite you to contribute to this Special Issue about "Biofortification of Crops" in the MPDI journal Agronomy.

Dietary diversification by supplementation or biofortification of staple foods are complementary approaches that can be used in addressing potential micronutrient deficiency. Bioforticiation, e.g., by breeding of preferred varieties to increase nutrient content, has the advantage that it provides the farmer and consumer with a ready-to-eat product.

It can be done by classical breeding; however, a major challenge is that this is a lengthy process based on the recurrent selection of phenotypes. In the future, approaches should therefore consider marker-assisted breeding strategies as well as gene editing to increase the levels of micronutrients. Both these ways require an advanced genetic and molecular understanding of the in planta biosynthesis of nutrients. Finally, possible secondary effects such as altered content of  “off-target” compounds, effects during post-harvest including long-term storage of produce, as well as the bioavilablility of the nutrient in the bioifortified crop need to be considered.

These and more issues related to the biofortification of crops are expected to be covered by manuscripts sent to this Special Issue.

Dr. Erik Alexandersson
Dr. Laura Jaakola
Dr. Massimiliano D'Imperio
Dr. Francesco Di Gioia
Dr. Elizabeth Parkes
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Staple crops
  • Micronutrient metabolism
  • Bioavailabity
  • Post-harvest stability
  • Marker assisted breeding
  • Gene editing

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Gene Expression and Metabolite Profiling of Thirteen Nigerian Cassava Landraces to Elucidate Starch and Carotenoid Composition
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 424; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030424 - 20 Mar 2020
Abstract
The prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in sub-Saharan Africa necessitates effective approaches to improve provitamin A content of major staple crops. Cassava holds much promise for food security in sub-Saharan Africa, but a negative correlation between β-carotene, a provitamin A carotenoid, and dry [...] Read more.
The prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in sub-Saharan Africa necessitates effective approaches to improve provitamin A content of major staple crops. Cassava holds much promise for food security in sub-Saharan Africa, but a negative correlation between β-carotene, a provitamin A carotenoid, and dry matter content has been reported, which poses a challenge to cassava biofortification by conventional breeding. To identify suitable material for genetic transformation in tissue culture with the overall aim to increase β-carotene and maintain starch content as well as better understand carotenoid composition, root and leaf tissues from thirteen field-grown cassava landraces were analyzed for agronomic traits, carotenoid, chlorophyll, and starch content. The expression of five genes related to carotenoid biosynthesis were determined in selected landraces. Analysis revealed a weak negative correlation between starch and β-carotene content, whereas there was a strong positive correlation between root yield and many carotenoids including β-carotene. Carotenoid synthesis genes were expressed in both white and yellow cassava roots, but phytoene synthase 2 (PSY2), lycopene-ε-cyclase (LCYε), and β-carotenoid hydroxylase (CHYβ) expression were generally higher in yellow roots. This study identified lines with reasonably high content of starch and β-carotene that could be candidates for biofortification by further breeding or plant biotechnological means. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Soil Type and Zinc Doses in Agronomic Biofortification of Lettuce Genotypes
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010124 - 15 Jan 2020
Abstract
The incidence of many malnutrition-related diseases among the populations of developing countries is closely related to low dietary zinc (Zn) intakes. This study evaluated the potential of agronomic biofortification of lettuce genotypes with Zn in different soils. We evaluated the ability to biofortify [...] Read more.
The incidence of many malnutrition-related diseases among the populations of developing countries is closely related to low dietary zinc (Zn) intakes. This study evaluated the potential of agronomic biofortification of lettuce genotypes with Zn in different soils. We evaluated the ability to biofortify three lettuce genotypes (‘Grand Rapids’, ‘Regina de Verão’, and ‘Delícia’) in two soils (Red-Yellow Latosol and Dystroferric Red Latosol) using five doses of Zn (0, 5, 10, 20, and 30 mg kg−1). At 55 days after sowing, the plants were harvested. There was an interaction among the soils, genotypes, and Zn doses. Regardless of the soil and genotype, the increase in Zn supply promoted a linear increase in shoot Zn concentration. However, shoot and root dry matter yields were differentially affected by Zn supply according to the genotype and soil type. Overall, the Red-Yellow Latosol provided a higher shoot Zn concentration but also caused greater growth damage, especially in ‘Regina de Verão’ and ‘Delícia’. ‘Grand Rapids’ was biofortified the most in Red-Yellow Latosol. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
SelectedAspects of Iodate and Iodosalicylate Metabolism in Lettuce Including the Activity of Vanadium Dependent Haloperoxidases as Affected by Exogenous Vanadium
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010001 - 18 Dec 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
In marine algae, vanadium (V) regulates the cellular uptake of iodine (I) and its volatilization as I2, the processes catalyzed by vanadium-dependent haloperoxidases (vHPO). Relationships between I and vanadium V in higher plants, including crop plants, have not yet been described. [...] Read more.
In marine algae, vanadium (V) regulates the cellular uptake of iodine (I) and its volatilization as I2, the processes catalyzed by vanadium-dependent haloperoxidases (vHPO). Relationships between I and vanadium V in higher plants, including crop plants, have not yet been described. Little is known about the possibility of the synthesis of plant-derived thyroid hormone analogs (PDTHA) in crop plants. The activity of vHPO in crop plants as well as the uptake and metabolism of iodosalicylates in lettuce have not yet been studied. This studyaimed to determine the effect of V on the uptake and accumulation of various forms of I, the metabolism of iodosalicylates and iodobenzoates and, finally, on the accumulation of T3 (triiodothyronine—as example of PDTHA) in plants. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var. capitata ‘Melodion’ cv.) cultivation in a hydroponic NutrientFilm Technique (NFT) system was conducted with the introduction of 0 (control), 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, and 0.4 µM V doses of ammonium metavanadate (NH4VO3) in four independent experiments. No iodine treatment was applied in Experiment No. 1, while iodine compounds were applied at a dose of 10 µM (based on our own previous research) as KIO3, 5-iodosalicylic acid (5-ISA) and 3,5-diiodosalicylic acid (3,5-diISA) in Experiment Nos. 2, 3 and 4, respectively. When lettuce was grown at trace amount of I in the nutrient solution, increasing doses of V contributed to the increase of (a) I content in roots, (b) I uptake by whole lettuce plants (leaves + roots), and (c) vHPO activity in leaves (for doses 0.05–0.20 µM V). Vanadium was mainly found in roots where the content of this element increased proportionally to its dose. The content of V in leaves was not modified by V introduced into the nutrient solution. We found that5-ISA, 3,5-diISA and T3 were naturally synthesized in lettuce and its content increased when 5-ISA, 3,5-diISA were applied. Quantitative changes in the accumulation of organic metabolites (iodosalicylates and iodobenzoates) accumulation were observed, along with increased T3 synthesis, with its content in leaves exceeding the level of individual iodosalicylates and iodobenzoates. The content of T3 was not affected by V fertilization. It was concluded that iodosalicylates may participate in the biosynthesis pathway of T3—and probably of other PDTHA compounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Iodine Agronomic Biofortification of Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) and Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) Is Effective under Farmer Field Conditions
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 797; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120797 - 23 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Iodine (I) is an essential micronutrient, which plays a critical role in human metabolism. However, its concentration is known to be low in most soils, making it deficient in crops. With most I agronomic biofortification studies conducted under controlled environments, limited information currently [...] Read more.
Iodine (I) is an essential micronutrient, which plays a critical role in human metabolism. However, its concentration is known to be low in most soils, making it deficient in crops. With most I agronomic biofortification studies conducted under controlled environments, limited information currently exists on this approach of enriching I deficient crops under farmer field conditions. Two-year field experiments were conducted in 2017 and 2018 to examine efficacy of cowpea and cabbage in the uptake of foliar applied potassium iodide (KI) and potassium iodate (KIO3), each with 0, 5, 10, and 15 kg I ha−1 under farmer field conditions. Results indicate that KI was 34% more efficient than KIO3. Iodine concentration increased with application rate. In cabbage, the lowest I concentration (8.2 mg kg−1) was registered at 5 kg I ha−1 with KIO3 while the highest was 109.1 mg kg−1 at 15 kg I ha−1 with KI. Cowpea registered the lowest I concentration of 531.5 mg kg−1 at 5 kg I ha−1 with KIO3 while the highest (5854.2 mg kg−1) was registered at 15 kg I ha−1 with KI. Therefore, cowpea and cabbage can be effectively biofortified through foliar application of both KI and KIO3 under farmer field conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Bioavailability of Iron and the Influence of Vitamin a in Biofortified Foods
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 777; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120777 - 20 Nov 2019
Abstract
Inadequate eating habits, among other factors, lead to nutritional deficiencies worldwide. Attempts have been made to control micronutrient deficits, such as biofortification of usually consumed crops, but the interaction between food components may affect the bioavailability of the nutrients. Thus, this study aimed [...] Read more.
Inadequate eating habits, among other factors, lead to nutritional deficiencies worldwide. Attempts have been made to control micronutrient deficits, such as biofortification of usually consumed crops, but the interaction between food components may affect the bioavailability of the nutrients. Thus, this study aimed to evaluate the effect of pro-vitamin A on the bioavailability of iron in biofortified cowpea and cassava mixture, compared to their conventional counterparts. The chemical composition of the raw material was determined, and an in vivo study was performed, with Wistar rats, using the depletion-repletion method. Gene expression of iron-metabolism proteins was evaluated. Results were compared by analysis of variance (ANOVA), followed by the Tukey test (p < 0.05). Biofortified cowpea (BRS Aracê) showed an increase of approximately 19.5% in iron content compared to conventional (BRS Nova era). No difference in Hemoglobin gain was observed between groups. However, the animals fed biofortified cowpea were similar to ferrous sulfate (Control group) regarding the expression of the hephaestin and ferroportin proteins, suggesting a greater efficiency in the intestinal absorption of iron. Thus, this study points out a higher efficiency of the biofortified cowpea in the bioavailability of iron, regardless of the presence of pro-vitamin A. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Steeping of Biofortified Orange Maize Genotypes for Ogi Production Modifies Pasting Properties and Carotenoid Stability
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 771; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110771 - 18 Nov 2019
Abstract
Biofortified orange maize open-pollinated varieties and hybrids with higher provitamin A carotenoids (pVACs) have been released in sub-Saharan Africa and will be introduced throughout the local food systems. This study assessed the impact of steeping, a traditional processing method, on retention of carotenoids [...] Read more.
Biofortified orange maize open-pollinated varieties and hybrids with higher provitamin A carotenoids (pVACs) have been released in sub-Saharan Africa and will be introduced throughout the local food systems. This study assessed the impact of steeping, a traditional processing method, on retention of carotenoids and starch pasting properties of porridges made from select biofortified maize genotypes. Steeping had a modest effect (<9% loss) on total carotenoid stability during relatively shorter steeping periods (<72 h). However, more extended steeping periods (up to 120 h) had a detrimental effect on total carotenoid recovery (61% loss). Xanthophylls showed greater stability (82% retention) compared to carotenes (30% retention) during subsequent wet cooking of fermented flours. Interestingly, steeping of maize did modify pasting properties, with peak viscosities increasing from 24–72 h of steeping potentially impacting cooking stability. These results suggest that steeping can impact carotenoid retention and potentially optimal steeping times would be 24–72 h for acceptable carotenoid retention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Expression Levels of the γ-Glutamyl Hydrolase I Gene Predict Vitamin B9 Content in Potato Tubers
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 734; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110734 - 09 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Biofortification of folates in staple crops is an important strategy to help eradicate human folate deficiencies. Folate biofortification using genetic engineering has shown great success in rice grain, tomato fruit, lettuce, and potato tuber. However, consumers’ skepticism, juridical hurdles, and lack of economic [...] Read more.
Biofortification of folates in staple crops is an important strategy to help eradicate human folate deficiencies. Folate biofortification using genetic engineering has shown great success in rice grain, tomato fruit, lettuce, and potato tuber. However, consumers’ skepticism, juridical hurdles, and lack of economic model have prevented the widespread adoption of nutritionally-enhanced genetically-engineered (GE) food crops. Meanwhile, little effort has been made to biofortify food crops with folate by breeding. Previously we reported >10-fold variation in folate content in potato genotypes. To facilitate breeding for enhanced folate content, we attempted to identify genes that control folate content in potato tuber. For this, we analyzed the expression of folate biosynthesis and salvage genes in low- and high-folate potato genotypes. First, RNA-Seq analysis showed that, amongst all folate biosynthesis and salvage genes analyzed, only one gene, which encodes γ-glutamyl hydrolase 1 (GGH1), was consistently expressed at higher levels in high- compared to low-folate segregants of a Solanum boliviense Dunal accession. Second, quantitative PCR showed that GGH1 transcript levels were higher in high- compared to low-folate segregants for seven out of eight pairs of folate segregants analyzed. These results suggest that GGH1 gene expression is an indicator of folate content in potato tubers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Zinc and Iron Agronomic Biofortification of Brassicaceae Microgreens
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 677; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110677 - 25 Oct 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Insufficient or suboptimal dietary intake of iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) represent a latent health issue affecting a large proportion of the global population, particularly among young children and women living in poor regions at high risk of malnutrition. Agronomic crop biofortification, which [...] Read more.
Insufficient or suboptimal dietary intake of iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) represent a latent health issue affecting a large proportion of the global population, particularly among young children and women living in poor regions at high risk of malnutrition. Agronomic crop biofortification, which consists of increasing the accumulation of target nutrients in edible plant tissues through fertilization or other eliciting factors, has been proposed as a short-term approach to develop functional staple crops and vegetables to address micronutrient deficiency. The aim of the presented study was to evaluate the potential for biofortification of Brassicaceae microgreens through Zn and Fe enrichment. The effect of nutrient solutions supplemented with zinc sulfate (Exp-1; 0, 5, 10, 20 mg L−1) and iron sulfate (Exp-2; 0, 10, 20, 40 mg L−1) was tested on the growth, yield, and mineral concentration of arugula, red cabbage, and red mustard microgreens. Zn and Fe accumulation in all three species increased according to a quadratic model. However, significant interactions were observed between Zn or Fe level and the species examined, suggesting that the response to Zn and Fe enrichment was genotype specific. The application of Zn at 5 and 10 mg L−1 resulted in an increase in Zn concentration compared to the untreated control ranging from 75% to 281%, while solutions enriched with Fe at 10 and 20 mg L−1 increased Fe shoot concentration from 64% in arugula up to 278% in red cabbage. In conclusion, the tested Brassicaceae species grown in soilless systems are good targets to produce high quality Zn and Fe biofortified microgreens through the simple manipulation of nutrient solution composition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Changes in the Chemical Composition of Six Lettuce Cultivars (Lactuca sativa L.) in Response to Biofortification with Iodine and Selenium Combined with Salicylic Acid Application
Agronomy 2019, 9(10), 660; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9100660 - 19 Oct 2019
Abstract
A two-year greenhouse study was conducted to assess the effects of the application of I (as KIO3), Se (as Na2SeO3), and salicylic acid (SA) in nutrient solutions on the chemical composition of six lettuce cultivars, i.e., two [...] Read more.
A two-year greenhouse study was conducted to assess the effects of the application of I (as KIO3), Se (as Na2SeO3), and salicylic acid (SA) in nutrient solutions on the chemical composition of six lettuce cultivars, i.e., two butterhead lettuces (BUTL), “Cud Voorburgu” and “Zimująca”; two iceberg lettuces (ICEL), “Maugli” and “Królowa lata”; and two Lactuca sativa L. var. crispa L. (REDL) cultivars, “Lollorossa” and “Redin”, grown in the NFT (nutrient film technique) system. The treatments were as follows: control, I+Se, I+Se+0.1 mg SA dm−3, I+Se+1.0 mg SA dm−3, and I+Se+10.0 mg SA dm−3. KIO3 was used at a dose of 5 mg I dm−3, while Na2SeO3 was used at 0.5 mg Se dm−3. The application of I+Se was a mild abiotic stress factor for the plants of the ICEL and REDL cultivars. In contrast, I+Se did not have a negative impact on the BUTLcultivars. The application of 1.0 mg SA dm−3 improved the biomass productivity in all cultivars compared with I+Se. In the majority of the cultivars, the applied combinations of I+Se and I+Se+SA resulted in a reduction in the nitrate(V) content that was beneficial to the consumer and increased levels of sugars, phenols, phenylpropanoids, flavonols, and anthocyanins. In addition, an increase in ascorbic acid content was observed, but only in the BUTL cultivars and REDL “Redin”. The application of I, Se, and SA had upward or downward effects on the concentrations of N, K, P, Ca, Mg, S, Na, B, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, and Zn in the leaves. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Hydroponic Production of Reduced-Potassium Swiss Chard and Spinach: A Feasible Agronomic Approach to Tailoring Vegetables for Chronic Kidney Disease Patients
Agronomy 2019, 9(10), 627; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9100627 - 11 Oct 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Tailored foods are specifically suitable for target groups of people with particular nutritional needs. Although most research on tailored foods has been focused on increasing the nutrient content in plant tissues (biofortification), in populations with specific physiological conditions, it is recommended to reduce [...] Read more.
Tailored foods are specifically suitable for target groups of people with particular nutritional needs. Although most research on tailored foods has been focused on increasing the nutrient content in plant tissues (biofortification), in populations with specific physiological conditions, it is recommended to reduce the uptake of specific nutrients in order to improve their health. People affected by chronic kidney disease (CKD) must limit their consumption of vegetables because of the generally high potassium (K) content in the edible parts. This study aimed to define an appropriate production technique for two baby leaf vegetables, spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) and Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris L. ssp. vulgaris), with reduced K tissue content, minimizing the negative effects on their crop performance and overall nutritional quality. Plants were grown in a hydroponic floating system. The K concentration in the nutrient solution (NS) was reduced from 200 mg/L (K200, the concentration usually used for growing baby leaf vegetables in hydroponic conditions) to 50 mg/L over the entire growing cycle (K50) or only during the seven days before harvest (K50-7d). The reduction of K in the NS resulted in a significant decrease of K tissue content in both species (32% for K50 and 10% for K50-7d, on average), while it did not, in general, compromise the crop performance and quality traits or the bioaccessibility of K, magnesium, and calcium. The production of reduced-potassium leafy vegetables is a feasible tailored nutrition approach for CKD patients in order to take advantage of the positive effects of vegetable consumption on health without excessively increasing potassium intake. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Enhancing Zinc Accumulation and Bioavailability in Wheat Grains by Integrated Zinc and Pesticide Application
Agronomy 2019, 9(9), 530; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9090530 - 11 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Incorporating foliar zinc (Zn) spray into existing pesticide application is considered highly cost-effective to biofortify wheat (Triticum aestivum) with Zn. However, the effectiveness of this combined approach in terms of Zn enrichment and bioavailability in grain and its milling fractions is [...] Read more.
Incorporating foliar zinc (Zn) spray into existing pesticide application is considered highly cost-effective to biofortify wheat (Triticum aestivum) with Zn. However, the effectiveness of this combined approach in terms of Zn enrichment and bioavailability in grain and its milling fractions is not well examined. Two-year field experiments were conducted in 2017 and 2018 with three sets of foliar applications (nil Zn as control, foliar Zn alone, and foliar Zn plus pesticides) at the anthesis, milk stage, or both. Compared to the control, grain yield was not affected by foliar Zn application alone or combined with pesticides, while the Zn concentrations and bioavailability substantially increased in the whole-grain, bran, and flour irrespective of spray timing. Yield losses by 28%–39% (2018 vs. 2017) led to 7%–18% and 18%–38% increase of Zn density in grain and flour, respectively. Further, such negative responses were uncoupled by foliar spray of Zn or Zn plus pesticides, and absent from the control plants. Nonetheless, grain Zn biofortification was achieved in both low- and high-yield plants with either Zn spray alone or combined with pesticides. Together with the enhanced Zn bioavailability in grain, bran, and flour, the effectiveness of this combined strategy is validated to biofortify wheat with Zn. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Nutrients’ and Antinutrients’ Seed Content in Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) Lines Carrying Mutations Affecting Seed Composition
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 317; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9060317 - 16 Jun 2019
Abstract
Lectins, phytic acid and condensed tannins exert major antinutritional effects in common bean when grains are consumed as a staple food. In addition, phaseolin, i.e., the major storage protein of the bean seed, is marginally digested when introduced in the raw form. Our [...] Read more.
Lectins, phytic acid and condensed tannins exert major antinutritional effects in common bean when grains are consumed as a staple food. In addition, phaseolin, i.e., the major storage protein of the bean seed, is marginally digested when introduced in the raw form. Our breeding target was to adjust the nutrient/antinutrient balance of the bean seed for obtaining a plant food with improved nutritional value for human consumption. In this study, the seeds of twelve phytohaemagglutinin-E-free bean lines carrying the mutations low phytic acid, phytohaemagglutinin-L-free, α-Amylase inhibitors-free, phaseolin-free, and reduced amount of condensed tannins, introgressed and differently combined in seven genetic groups, were analyzed for their nutrient composition. Inedited characteristics, such as a strong positive correlation (+0.839 **) between the genetic combination “Absence of phaseolin + Presence of the α-Amylase Inhibitors” and the amount of “accumulated iron and zinc”, were detected. Three lines carrying this genetic combination showed a much higher iron content than the baseline (+22.4%) and one of them in particular, achieved high level (+29.1%; 91.37 µg g−1) without any specific breeding intervention. If confirmed by scientific verification, the association of these genetic traits might be usefully exploited for raising iron and zinc seed content in a bean biofortification breeding program. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
Open AccessArticle
Winter Wheat Grain Quality, Zinc and Iron Concentration Affected by a Combined Foliar Spray of Zinc and Iron Fertilizers
Agronomy 2019, 9(5), 250; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9050250 - 20 May 2019
Cited by 8
Abstract
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the main foods globally. Nutrition problems associated with Zinc and Iron deficiency affect more than two billion individuals. Biofortification is a strategy believed to be sustainable, economical and easily implemented. This study evaluated the effect [...] Read more.
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the main foods globally. Nutrition problems associated with Zinc and Iron deficiency affect more than two billion individuals. Biofortification is a strategy believed to be sustainable, economical and easily implemented. This study evaluated the effect of combined Zn and Fe applied as foliar fertilizer to winter wheat on grain yield, quality, Zn and Fe concentration in the grains. Results showed that treatments containing high Fe increased the yield. Grain crude fat content remained unaffected. Crude fiber was enhanced up to three-fold by 60% Zn + 40% Fe5.5 (5.5 kg ha−1 of 60% Zn + 40% Fe). Moreover, 80% Zn + 20% Fe5.5 (5.5 kg ha−1 of 80% Zn + 20% Fe) was the best combination for increasing crude protein. Zinc applied alone enhanced Zn concentration in grain. In addition, Fe was slightly improved by an application of Zn and Fe in the first year, but a greater increase was observed in the second year, where 100% Fe13 (13 kg ha−1 of 100% Fe) was the best in improving Fe in grain. Foliar application of Zn and Fe is a practical approach to increase Zn and Fe concentration, and to improve the quality of wheat grains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Legume Biofortification and the Role of Plant Growth-Promoting Bacteria in a Sustainable Agricultural Era
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 435; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030435 - 22 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
World population growth, together with climate changes and increased hidden hunger, bring an urgent need for finding sustainable and eco-friendly agricultural approaches to improve crop yield and nutritional value. The existing methodologies for enhancing the concentration of bioavailable micronutrients in edible crop tissues [...] Read more.
World population growth, together with climate changes and increased hidden hunger, bring an urgent need for finding sustainable and eco-friendly agricultural approaches to improve crop yield and nutritional value. The existing methodologies for enhancing the concentration of bioavailable micronutrients in edible crop tissues (i.e., biofortification), including some agronomic strategies, conventional plant breeding, and genetic engineering, have not always been successful. In recent years, the use of plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) has been suggested as a promising approach for the biofortification of important crops, including legumes. Legumes have many beneficial health effects, namely, improved immunological, metabolic and hormonal regulation, anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory effects, and decreased risk of cardiovascular and obesity-related diseases. These crops also play a key role in the environment through symbiotic nitrogen (N) fixation, reducing the need for N fertilizers, reducing CO2 emissions, improving soil composition, and increasing plant resistance to pests and diseases. PGPB act by a series of direct and indirect mechanisms to potentially improve crop yields and nutrition. This review will focus on the: (i) importance of legumes in the accomplishment of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for production systems; (ii) understanding the role of PGPB in plant nutrition; (iii) iron biofortification of legumes with PGPB, which is an interesting case study of a green technology for sustainable plant-food production improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessReview
Advances in Genomic Interventions for Wheat Biofortification: A Review
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010062 - 02 Jan 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Wheat is an essential constituent of cereal-based diets, and one of the most significant sources of calories. However, modern wheat varieties are low in proteins and minerals. Biofortification is a method for increasing the availability of essential elements in the edible portions of [...] Read more.
Wheat is an essential constituent of cereal-based diets, and one of the most significant sources of calories. However, modern wheat varieties are low in proteins and minerals. Biofortification is a method for increasing the availability of essential elements in the edible portions of crops through agronomic or genetic and genomic interventions. Wheat biofortification, as a research topic, has become increasingly prevalent. Recent accomplishments in genomic biofortification could potentially be helpful for the development of biofortified wheat grains, as a sustainable solution to the issue of “hidden hunger”. Genomic interventions mainly include quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping, marker-assisted selection (MAS), and genomic selection (GS). Developments in the identification of QTL and in the understanding of the physiological and molecular bases of the QTLs controlling the biofortification traits in wheat have revealed new horizons for the improvement of modern wheat varieties. Markers linked with the QTLs of desirable traits can be identified through QTL mapping, which can be employed for MAS. Besides MAS, a powerful tool, GS, also has great potential for crop improvement. We have compiled information from QTL mapping studies on wheat, carried out for the identification of the QTLs associated with biofortification traits, and have discussed the present status of MAS and different prospects of GS for wheat biofortification. Accelerated mapping studies, as well as MAS and GS schemes, are expected to improve wheat breeding efficiency further. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessReview
Rice Biofortification: High Iron, Zinc, and Vitamin-A to Fight against “Hidden Hunger”
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 803; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120803 - 25 Nov 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
One out of three humans suffer from micronutrient deficiencies called “hidden hunger”. Underprivileged people, including preschool children and women, suffer most from deficiency diseases and other health-related issues. Rice (Oryza sativa), a staple food, is their source of nutrients, contributing up [...] Read more.
One out of three humans suffer from micronutrient deficiencies called “hidden hunger”. Underprivileged people, including preschool children and women, suffer most from deficiency diseases and other health-related issues. Rice (Oryza sativa), a staple food, is their source of nutrients, contributing up to 70% of daily calories for more than half of the world’s population. Solving “hidden hunger” through rice biofortification would be a sustainable approach for those people who mainly consume rice and have limited access to diversified food. White milled rice grains lose essential nutrients through polishing. Therefore, seed-specific higher accumulation of essential nutrients is a necessity. Through the method of biofortification (via genetic engineering/molecular breeding), significant increases in iron and zinc with other essential minerals and provitamin-A (β-carotene) was achieved in rice grain. Many indica and japonica rice cultivars have been biofortified worldwide, being popularly known as ‘high iron rice’, ‘low phytate rice’, ‘high zinc rice’, and ‘high carotenoid rice’ (golden rice) varieties. Market availability of such varieties could reduce “hidden hunger”, and a large population of the world could be cured from iron deficiency anemia (IDA), zinc deficiency, and vitamin-A deficiency (VAD). In this review, different approaches of rice biofortification with their outcomes have been elaborated and discussed. Future strategies of nutrition improvement using genome editing (CRISPR/Cas9) and the need of policy support have been highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessReview
Possible Roles of Rhizospheric and Endophytic Microbes to Provide a Safe and Affordable Means of Crop Biofortification
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 764; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110764 - 16 Nov 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Biofortification has been used to improve micronutrient contents in crops for human consumption. In under-developed regions, it is important to fortify crops so that people can obtain essential micronutrients despite the limited variety in their diets. In wealthy societies, fortified crops are regarded [...] Read more.
Biofortification has been used to improve micronutrient contents in crops for human consumption. In under-developed regions, it is important to fortify crops so that people can obtain essential micronutrients despite the limited variety in their diets. In wealthy societies, fortified crops are regarded as a “greener” choice for health supplements. Biofortification is also used in crops to boost the contents of other non-essential secondary metabolites which are considered beneficial to human health. Breeding of elite germplasms and metabolic engineering are common approaches to fortifying crops. However, the time required for breeding and the acceptance of genetically modified crops by the public have presented significant hurdles. As an alternative approach, microbe-mediated biofortification has not received the attention it deserves, despite having great potential. It has been reported that the inoculation of soil or crops with rhizospheric or endophytic microbes, respectively, can enhance the micronutrient contents in various plant tissues including roots, leaves and fruits. In this review, we highlight the applications of microbes as a sustainable and cost-effective alternative for biofortification by improving the mineral, vitamin, and beneficial secondary metabolite contents in crops through naturally occurring processes. In addition, the complex plant–microbe interactions involved in biofortification are also addressed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Microalgal Biostimulants and Biofertilisers in Crop Productions
Agronomy 2019, 9(4), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9040192 - 15 Apr 2019
Cited by 24
Abstract
Microalgae are attracting the interest of agrochemical industries and farmers, due to their biostimulant and biofertiliser properties. Microalgal biostimulants (MBS) and biofertilisers (MBF) might be used in crop production to increase agricultural sustainability. Biostimulants are products derived from organic material that, applied in [...] Read more.
Microalgae are attracting the interest of agrochemical industries and farmers, due to their biostimulant and biofertiliser properties. Microalgal biostimulants (MBS) and biofertilisers (MBF) might be used in crop production to increase agricultural sustainability. Biostimulants are products derived from organic material that, applied in small quantities, are able to stimulate the growth and development of several crops under both optimal and stressful conditions. Biofertilisers are products containing living microorganisms or natural substances that are able to improve chemical and biological soil properties, stimulating plant growth, and restoring soil fertility. This review is aimed at reporting developments in the processing of MBS and MBF, summarising the biologically-active compounds, and examining the researches supporting the use of MBS and MBF for managing productivity and abiotic stresses in crop productions. Microalgae are used in agriculture in different applications, such as amendment, foliar application, and seed priming. MBS and MBF might be applied as an alternative technique, or used in conjunction with synthetic fertilisers, crop protection products and plant growth regulators, generating multiple benefits, such as enhanced rooting, higher crop yields and quality and tolerance to drought and salt. Worldwide, MBS and MBF remain largely unexploited, such that this study highlights some of the current researches and future development priorities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofortification of Crops)
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