Chinese scientists identified a novel iron-regulated transporter in maize.
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New transporter to help balance zinc and iron homeostasis in maize

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

Iron is an essential micronutrient for the growth and development of animals and plants. Iron deficiency in humans can lead to anaemia, and about one-third of the world's population are iron deficient to some extent. Therefore, it is of great significance to elucidate the mechanism of iron absorption in plants for the development of new crop varieties with high iron contents and to improve iron-deficiency anaemia in humans.

Scientists from the Biotechnology Research Institute and Qingdao Agricultural University in  PR China 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.

The findings were published in Plant & Cell Physiology last February.

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.



Link to article in Plant & Cell Physiology:

Suzhen Li, Zizhao Song, Xiaoqing Liu, Xiaojin Zhou, Wenzhu Yang, Jingtang Chen, Rumei Chen: Mediation of Zinc and Iron Accumulation in Maize by ZmIRT2, A Novel Iron-Regulated Transporter; Plant and Cell Physiology, pcab177, February 2022.


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