Recent advances in arsenic metabolism in plants: current status, challenges and highlighted biotechnological intervention to reduce grain arsenic in rice
Arsenic (As), classified as a “metalloid” element, is well known for its carcinogenicity and other toxic effects to humans. Arsenic exposure in plants results in the alteration of the physiochemical and biological properties and consequently, loss of crop yield. Being a staple food for half of the world's population, the consumption of As-contaminated rice grain by humans may pose serious health issues and risks for food security. In this study, we have described the principal understanding of the molecular basis of arsenic toxicity and accumulation in plant parts. We described the measures for decreasing As accumulation in rice and understanding the mechanism and transport of As uptake, its transport from root to shoot to rice grain, its metabolism, detoxification, as well as the mechanisms lying behind its accumulation in rice grains. There are various checkpoints, such as the tuning of AsV/Pi specific Pi transporters, arsenate reductase, transporters that are involved in the efflux of As to either the vacuole or outside the cell, xylem loading, loading and unloading to the phloem, and transporters involved in the loading of As to grain, that can be targeted to reduce As accumulation in rice grain. Genes/proteins involved in As detoxification, particularly the glutathione (GSH) biosynthesis pathway, phytochelatin (PC) synthesis, and arsenic methyltransferase, also provide a great pool of pathways that can also be castellated for the low As in rice grains. Paddy rice is also used as fodder for animals, enhancing vacuolar sequestration and using constitutive promoters, which may be of concern for animal health. Therefore, using a root-specific promoter and/or converting inorganic arsenic into volatile organic arsenic might be a better strategy for low As in grain. Furthermore, in this review, the other specific approaches, such as bio-remediation, bio-augmentation practices, and molecular breeding, which have great potential to reduce As uptake from soil to rice grains, have also been highlighted.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Review Articles