On December 8th, the latest major research achievement from the team of Professor Tang Jihua at our university, in collaboration with the team led by Researcher Li Wenxue from the Crop Science Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, was published online in the journal Science. The research explores the possibility of controlling the iron content switch in major crops like corn to address the hidden hunger caused by iron deficiency, a common cause of anemia.
The joint research teams identified the key gene ZmNAC78 that regulates the entry of iron into corn kernels, unraveling the molecular mechanism by which this gene and metal transport proteins form a molecular switch to control the entry of iron into corn kernels. Using this gene, the researchers significantly increased the iron content in corn kernels to 70.5 milligrams per kilogram, more than twice the average iron content in currently used corn kernels. Additionally, they utilized the developed molecular markers to cultivate a new strain of corn with enriched iron content in its kernels. This research provides a new gene for addressing the issue of micronutrient deficiency, particularly iron, in crops.