Iron biofortification of chickpea

ZHG Tan1, S Bhowmik1, B Williams1, AT Johnson2, TML Hoang1, MR Karbarschi1, Y Cheng1, H Long1 and S Mundree1

  1. Queensland University of Technology
  2. George Street, Brisbane, QLD 4001
  3. University of Melbourne. Parkville, VIC 3010

Iron deficiency is one of the major micronutrient deficiencies worldwide and affects both developed and developing nations. Existing methods of alleviating this issue, such as supplementation and food fortification, are limited by the economic status of the targeted demographics. Biofortification presents a sustainable means to overcome this drawback. Iron biofortification via genetic modification has been done in several important crop species such as rice and wheat; however no work has been done on pulses despite their status as an important secondary staple. Pulses are rich in protein and micronutrients including iron, most of which is not bioavailable. This project focuses on the iron biofortification of chickpea via genetic modification. Chickpea is the world’s second most important pulse crop and is consumed widely, particularly in India where anaemia is prevalent. In this project, a combination of nicotianamine synthase (NAS) and ferritin, which have been successfully used in rice and wheat biofortification, were used to transform chickpea half-embryonic axes through Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Assessment of iron content in the T1 and T2 progeny was done using LA-ICP-MS (Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy) and ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy). Preliminary results with the leaves and seeds show an enhanced iron accumulation of 3-fold in transgenic leaves and 1.3-fold in transgenic cotyledons compared to the non-transgenic controls.