Quantify the Requirements to Achieve Grain Zn Biofortification of High-yield Wheat on Calcareous Soils
The solution to address global human Zn deficiency is Zn biofortification of staple food crops, aimed at high grain Zn concentration as well as high yield. However, the desired high grain Zn concentration above 40 mg kg-1 is rarely observed for high-yield wheat on worldwide calcareous soils, due to inadequate Zn uptake or Zn distribution to grain. The present study aims to investigate how much Zn uptake or distribution is adequate to achieve the Zn.t of high-yield wheat on calcareous soils with low available Zn (∼ 0.5 mg kg-1). Of the 123 cultivars tested in a three-year field experiment, 19 high-yield cultivars were identified with similar yields around 7.0 t ha-1 and various grain Zn concentrations from 9.3 to 26.7 mg kg-1. The adequate Zn distribution to grain was defined from the view of Zn biofortification, as the situation where the Zn distribution to grain (Zn harvest index) increased to the observed maximum of ∼ 91.0% and the Zn concentration of vegetative parts (straw Zn concentration) decreased to the observed minimum of ∼ 1.5 mg kg-1 (Zn.m). Under the assumed condition of adequate Zn distribution to grain (∼ 91.0%), all the extra Zn above Zn.m was remobilized from straw to grain and the grain Zn concentration would be increased to its highest attainable level, which was 14.5 ∼ 31.3 mg kg-1 for the 19 high-yield cultivars but still lower than 40 mg kg-1. Thus, even with the adequate Zn distribution to grain, the current Zn uptake is still not adequate and needs to be increased to 308 g ha-1 or higher to achieve Zn.t for high-yield wheat (7.0 t ha-1) on low-Zn calcareous soils. Besides, the established method here can also provide the priority measures and quantitative guidelines to achieve Zn biofortification in other wheat production regions. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest. * Zn.s : straw Zn concentration Zn.m : minimum straw Zn concentration Zn.p : potential increase of grain Zn concentration Zn.c : current grain Zn concentration Zn.a : attainable grain Zn concentration ZnHI : Zn harvest index Zn.t : grain Zn biofortification target.
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