Exploring plant growth promoting bacteria as mineral mobilizers for Fe and Zn biofortification in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.)
Duration: 01/Apr/2016 - 31/Mar/2018
Project contact: Dr Mamta Sharma (mamta.sharma@CGIAR.ORG)
Donor: Government department -national- state or local,Science & Engineering Research Board- Government of India-India
CGIAR Research Program: Grain Legumes
Mineral malnutrition, that affects ~ 2 million people around world, is deceptive and hidden, increasing vulnerability to illness and infections. This hidden hunger can leave children blinded, stunted, or with a reduced IQ, and increase a womanâ€™s risk of dying during childbirth. These millions of people, mostly in poorer countries, rely upon staple foods routinely with inability to afford for dietary diversification or pharmaceutical supplementation or industrial fortification of minerals. Biofortification is a strategy that can tackle hidden hunger merely through staple foods that people eat every day. In addition, it is cost-effective and has been a targeted activity towards rural communities. This strategy can be achieved through agronomic practices, conventional breeding and genetic engineering and each have their own pros and cons. The sustainability of such grain fortification with higher seed mineral concentration is soil heath-dependent, especially on the availability of Fe and Zn in the rhizosphere. Microorganisms, the invisible engineers in improving the soil health by solubilizing trace elements and by driving various biogeochemical cycles of soil, have the ability to serve as a key solution for this complex issue. Among various steps involved, microbes residing in the metalliferous soil are the pioneers in mobilization/solubilization/extraction of minerals of a wide range. Increasing the seed mineral density with the use of such PGP microbes is in its infancy. Hence the present project is aimed at exploring a consortium of microbes with metal mobilizing and PGP traits for an enhanced Fe and Zn fortification in chickpea, the third most important legume crop in the world and a rich supplement to cereal diet with valuable source of protein and minerals. This proposed strategy acts as a complementary sustainable tool for the existing biofortification strategies. It is also expected to substantially reduce the chemical fertilizer inputs and reduce protein and mineral malnutrition incidences in developing countries.