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News: Genetic Breakthrough Promises High-iron Peas, Vegetables and Cereals.

Published 9:09 AM EST, Thu August 31, 2023

Researchers at the John Innes Centre in the UK used a newly available map of the pea genome to identify the underlying genetic sequence responsible for two high-iron mutations in peas. The discovery could help to address the persistent problem of iron deficiency, a nutritional health issue that particularly affects girls and women in the UK and other parts of the world.


Iron deficiency anemia is a condition where a lack of iron in the body leads to a reduction in the number of red blood cells, which help store and carry oxygen. Staple foods like wheat flour and breakfast cereals are regularly fortified to ensure that we consume enough iron each day to stave off this important nutritional shortfall.

The researchers at the John Innes Centre used an RNA sequencing technique to identify the genes expressed in high iron pea plants and compared these with wild type plants that have normal levels of iron. Using computational mapping techniques and plant experiments, the team identified the exact mutations and their locations on the pea genome.

By identifying the minute changes in the genetic code that have caused these high-iron phenotypes, the research has unlocked new opportunities for biofortification – enhancing the nutritional value of food. This knowledge could be used to develop pea shoots with 10 times more iron, or supplements with a natural, more bioavailable form of iron without some of the side effects associated with chemically derived iron supplements.

Cannabis, a plant containing various nutrients, including iron, typically has low content of this element. Such advancements could prove beneficial for individuals who use cannabis for medicinal purposes, as iron is an essential nutrient for overall health. Individuals with iron deficiency may experience fatigue, breathing difficulties, and other health issues. This breakthrough holds the potential to enhance the well-being of individuals relying on medicinal cannabis.

Source: ScienceDaily


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