Phytate is a major constituent of wheat seeds and chelates metal ions, thus reducing their bioavailability and so the nutritional value of grains. Transgenic plants expressing heterologous phytase are expected to enhance degradation of phytic acid stored in seeds and are proposed to increase the in vitro bioavailability of mineral nutrients. Wheat transgenic plants expressing Aspergillus japonicus phytase gene (phyA) in wheat endosperm were developed till T3 generation. The transgenic lines exhibited 18-99 % increase in phytase activity and 12-76 % reduction of phytic acid content in seeds. The minimum phytic acid content was observed in chapatti (Asian bread) as compared to flour and dough. The transcript profiling of phyA mRNA indicated twofold to ninefold higher expression as compared to non transgenic controls. There was no significant difference in grain nutrient composition of transgenic and non-transgenic seeds. In vitro bioavailability assay for iron and zinc in dough and chapatti of transgenic lines revealed a significant increase in iron and zinc contents. The development of nutritionally enhanced cereals is a step forward to combat nutrition deficiency for iron and zinc in malnourished human population, especially women and children.
Keywords: Bioavailability; Iron; Phytase; Phytic acid; Transgenic wheat; Zinc.