Possible Solutions To Increase Iron Status In Plant Sources

We have seen that plants are essential sources of iron in the human and animal diet and that often iron concentration in plants is not enough to meet the daily dietary recommendations. In many parts of the developing world, due to elevated costs, large segments of the human population do not have access to animal sources of iron. In these cases, a commonly used strategy is iron fortification. However, iron fortification of plant foods is not always practical or economically feasible for the rural poor, and many times this fortified iron is not highly bioavailable (Boccio and Iyengar, 2003). Therefore, a more sustainable approach, that is believed relevant to both urban and rural populations, is to enhance the iron content of plant foods through biofortification. Biofortification is a process whereby the plant uses its own mechanisms to fortify or enhance the density or bioavailability of nutrients (like iron) in its edible tissues. To develop iron biofortified plants, four main strategies can be utilized: 1) cultivar evaluation, 2) plant breeding and marker-assisted selection, 3) alteration of pathways of iron metabolism, and 4) modification of iron bioavailability.

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