Iron has an important role in plants, animals, and microbes for electron transfer, oxygen transport, and storage, hormone synthesis, DNA replication, substrate oxidation-reduction, nitrogen fixation, repairing cell cycle control, and protection from reactive oxygen species (ROS) (Hurrell and Kelishadi, 2010). Iron deficiency is greatly affecting people all over the globe and must be eliminated by the right approaches to reduce health disorders and food insecure conditions.
Role of Iron for Human Body
It is involved in neuron signaling and myelination of the spinal cord and nervous system in the brain (Ogo et al., 2009). During chlorophyll biosynthesis, Fe acts as a catalyst and oxygen carrier. Its translocation within the plant parts is not much effective. Due to unique physiochemical properties, Fe takes part in redox reactions in the body and also acts as a cofactor in various enzymatic reactions (Kim and Geurinot, 2007).
People Prone to Iron Deficiency
A greater proportion of the world population is suffering from micronutrient deficiencies. Among these nutritional disorders, Fe deficiency is the most widespread causing nutritional disorder across the world and it seriously affects human health, productivity, and life span. According to WGO estimates, 52% of pregnant women and 48% of children in developing countries are anemic (Akhtar et al., 2013).
Iron Requirements During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, Fe intake requirements are increased by three folds due to the development of fetal placement growth and red cell mass (Pavord et al., 2012). Integrated effective management for the optimum supply of Fe to crop plants is the only possible sustainable strategy to reduce Fe deficiency in human beings. Only by the biofortification of common beans, the extent of Fe deficiency can be reduced by 9-33% in northern Brazil (Darnton, 1999). https://soilplantfood.com/threat-level-due-to-micronutrient-malnutrition-and-possible-remediation-measures/
Role of Iron for Agriculture and Crop Production
Nutritional contents and agricultural productivity is severely reduced by Fe deficiency (Zuo and Zhang, 2010). Fe deficiency is often seen in calcareous, alkaline, and well-aerated soils (Schmidt, 1999). Fe is acquired by the plants in two strategies (Puig et al., 2007).
The strategy I is used by nongraminaceous species. The rhizosphere is acidified by the roots and organic acid and phenolic compounds are released which increases Fe3+ concentration in soil solution.
These compounds cause chelation of Fe3+ and then it is subsequently reduced to Fe2+ by ferrous reductase. These reactions take place in the plasma membrane of root epidermal cells encoded by the members of the ferric reductase oxidase (FRO) gene family (Wu et al., 2005; Mukherjee et al., 2006).
Strategy II is employed by the grasses and cereals. Phytosiderophores are released into the rhizosphere for chelation. There Fe3+ phytosiderophores complex is taken up by the root cells (Ishimaru et al., 2006). Phytosiderophores chemistry is specie specific and it greatly determines the ability of grasses and cereals to acquire Fe from soil (Bashir et al., 2006).
Iron-Rich Dietary Sources
Sustainable food-based approaches utilizing Fe-rich dietary sources in adequate amounts can be much effective for controlling Fe deficiency and other associated nutritional disorders. So different approaches should be developed for increasing Fe contents in edible plant tissues to reduce iron deficiency (Saini et al., 2016).
Biofortification vs GMO is a hot debate but biofortification is essentially important to improve Fe levels in the foods. It is sustainable and easy to implement an approach for poor communities. Supplementation, vitamin D supplementation, vitamin mineral supplementation, calcium supplementation, magnesium supplementation, vitamin D and calcium supplementation, B6 supplementation, and essential fatty acid supplementation is also a good approach but it is not affordable for all people belonging to different regions and community standards. https://soilplantfood.com/role-of-zn-for-life-and-zn-deficiency-across-the-globe/