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Soon, 'super rice' to meet daily iron needs of world's under-nourished

Posted On: Sept. 10, 2011

Adelaide, Sep 8 (ANI): Scientists from Adelaide have pioneered a super rice breakthrough to provide a solution to the iron and zinc deficiency disorders for the world's under-nourished.

Dr Alex Johnson, from the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, says the genetically modified rice has up to four times more iron than conventional rice and twice as much zinc.

"We just tricked the plant into thinking it doesn't have enough iron," Adelaide Now quoted him as saying.

"By making the plant think it doesn't have enough iron, it takes up more iron and it puts more iron into the grain," he added.

Conventional breeding techniques have failed to achieve even half the level of nutrients required, so the scientists turned to biotechnology. They used a plant virus to boost the activity of a gene that naturally occurs in rice.

The team - including researchers from all three universities in South Australia and the University of Melbourne - is the first to raise rice plants in the greenhouse with the desired level of iron and zinc.

Dr Johnson expects the entire process will take about a decade, so it will be a while before iron-rich rice appears on supermarket shelves.

The study was recently published in the journal PLoS ONE. (ANI)

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