The Need for Breeding Zinc Efficient Wheat Cultivars to Combate Zinc Deficiency in Humans in Egypt

Human zinc deficiency is common in arid Middle Eastern and Western Asian countries. Zn deficiency and its effects on human health were first discovered in Egypt and Iran in the early 1960s. Zinc deficiency produces a slew of unpleasant symptoms. In the 1970s, Egypt’s National Research Centre performed soil and crop nutritional surveys, which included Zn. Many soils, like wheat, had low to very low Zn content, which was reflected in low Zn content in crops. Various approaches to correcting Zn deficiency in humans by agronomic practises were established in the interim. Treating seeds with Zn (soaking or coating), treating soil (by applying Zn fertilisers), and spraying Zn foliar fertilisers on crops are just a few instances. Both of these strategies, though, are only temporary and do not have a long-term solution. Different crop cultivars have different reactions to Zn, resulting in differences in Zn absorption, translocation, and accumulation in edible pieces. Intensive efforts have been made, and continue to be made, to breed new varieties of edible parts with high micronutrient content. Zn, Fe, and other metals have been used in these efforts. The Harvest Plus programme was started by the Bill-Gates Foundation and other donors to grow new varieties of crops with high micronutrient content. Wheat, maize, rice, and other crops are among the crops on which CGIAR institutes and centres are focusing their efforts. There is a lot of knowledge in Egypt about Zn deficiency in soils and crops, as well as the impact of using agronomic practises to correct the deficiency and increase yields and Zn content in edible parts like wheat grains.

To breed new crop cultivars with high Zn content in edible sections, we still need intensive collaboration and cooperation among breeders, biotechnologists, soil scientists, crop physiologists, and agronomists. Wheat, maize, rice, and fababean should be prioritised.

Author (s) Details

Prof. Dr. Mohamed M. El-Fouly
Department of Fertilization Technology, National Research Centre (NRC), El-Behooth Street- P.C. 12622. Cairo-Dokki, Egypt.

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