RESEARCHERS from ETH Zurich led by Navreet Bhullar from the Institute of Molecular Plant Biology have genetically modified (GM) one of the most commonly grown varieties of rice.

The ETH researchers developed rice lines with iron increases equaling more than 90 per cent of the recommended iron content and up to 170 per cent of the recommended content for zinc in rice grains.

Bhullar and her research team incorporated a genetic construct that expresses a combination of three additional genes into the rice plants. One of the genes facilitates mobilisation of iron stored in the plant vacuoles, another encodes for an iron-storing protein Ferritin, and the third promotes efficient iron and zinc uptake by the roots.

These plants have been tested in the lab and greenhouse conditions, and will be tested in the field in the near future.