Low concentration of zinc (Zn) in the endosperm of cereals is a major factor contributing to Zn deficiency in human populations. We have investigated how combined Zn and nitrogen (N) fertilization affects the speciation and localization of Zn in durum wheat (Triticum durum). Zn-binding proteins were analysed with liquid chromatography ICP-MS and Orbitrap MS2, respectively. Laser ablation ICP-MS with simultaneous Zn, sulphur (S) and phosphorus (P) detection was used for bioimaging of Zn and its potential ligands. Increasing the Zn and N supply had a major impact on the Zn concentration in the endosperm, reaching concentrations higher than current breeding targets. The S concentration also increased, but S was only partly co-localized with Zn. The mutual Zn and S enrichment was reflected in substantially more Zn bound to small cysteine-rich proteins (apparent size 10-30 kDa), whereas the response of larger proteins (apparent size > 50 kDa) was only modest. Most of the Zn-responsive proteins were associated with redox- and stress-related processes. This study offers a methodological platform to deepen the understanding of processes behind endosperm Zn enrichment. Novel information is provided on how the localization and speciation of Zn is modified during Zn biofortification of grains.
- Durum wheat
- Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)
- Laser ablation (LA)
- Zinc (Zn) localization
- Zinc (Zn)-binding proteins