Biofortification of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) with iron and zinc: Achievements and challenges

Raul Huertas*, Barbara Karpinska, Sophia Ngala, Bertha Mkandawire, Joyce Maling'a, Elizabeth Wajenkeche, Paul M. Kimani, Christine Boesch, Derek Stewart, Robert D. Hancock, Christine H. Foyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
123 Downloads (Pure)


Micronutrient deficiencies (hidden hunger), particularly in iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn), remain one of the most serious public health challenges, affecting more than three billion people globally. A number of strategies are used to ameliorate the problem of micronutrient deficiencies and to improve the nutritional profile of food products. These include (i) dietary diversification, (ii) industrial food fortification and supplements, (iii) agronomic approaches including soil mineral fertilisation, bioinoculants and crop rotations, and (iv) biofortification through the implementation of biotechnology including gene editing and plant breeding. These efforts must consider the dietary patterns and culinary preferences of the consumer and stakeholder acceptance of new biofortified varieties. Deficiencies in Zn and Fe are often linked to the poor nutritional status of agricultural soils, resulting in low amounts and/or poor availability of these nutrients in staple food crops such as common bean. This review describes the genes and processes associated with Fe and Zn accumulation in common bean, a significant food source in Africa that plays an important role in nutritional security. We discuss the conventional plant breeding, transgenic and gene editing approaches that are being deployed to improve Fe and Zn accumulation in beans. We also consider the requirements of successful bean biofortification programmes, highlighting gaps in current knowledge, possible solutions and future perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere406
JournalFood and Energy Security
Issue number2
Early online date30 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • bioavailability
  • biofortification
  • breeding
  • common bean
  • Phaseolus vulgaris

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Food Science
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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