Growing zinc-rich barley possible

April 17th, 2008 - 3:31 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, April 17 (IANS) Genetic markers to detect zinc-rich varieties of barley have recently been identified by researchers, throwing up promise of improving the zinc status in human diet. “Zinc deficiency is a problem in many developing countries and is the fifth leading cause of diseases, especially diarrhoea and pneumonia in children,” said Zed Rengel of University of Western Australia.

Zinc is vital for physical and mental development, fertility, vision and resistance to infections, yet many of the world’s soils are zinc-deficient, according to Behzad Sadeghzadeh, Rengel’s colleague.

Zinc is also an essential trace element, playing a crucial role in more than 300 enzymes in the human body.

Sadeghzadeh discovered that some barley varieties grow and yield well even in zinc-deficient soils, because they are zinc efficient and have zinc-dense seed.

“By selecting lines with zinc-dense seed, barley breeders will be able to produce crop that yield better in zinc-deficient soils and also contribute required amounts of zinc to the human diet,” Sadeghzadeh said.

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