Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Parlier, California » San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center » Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #329238

Title: Selenium biofortification

item Banuelos, Gary
item LIN, Z - Southern Illinois University
item BROADLEY, M - University Of Nottingham

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2016
Publication Date: 5/11/2017
Citation: Banuelos, G.S., Lin, Z.Q., Broadley, M. 2017. Selenium biofortification. In: Pilon-Smits, E., Winkel, L., Lin Z.Q., editors. Selenium in Plants. Plant Ecophysiology. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. 11:231-255. doi 10.1007.978-3-319-56249-0_14.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Plant foods are the major dietary sources of selenium (Se) in most countries around the world, followed by meats and seafood. For this reason, it is vital to increase Se uptake by plants and to produce crops with higher Se concentrations and bioavailability in their edible tissues. One of the most promising approaches to mitigate a low transfer of Se and other nutrients from soil into the food chain involves a concept called biofortification. In this review article, we discuss biofortification, as an agronomic-based strategy, that can be utilized to produce Se-enriched food products and help reduce dietary deficiencies of Se occurring throughout susceptible regions of the world. One of the key issues in biofortification is to select the most appropriate method to biofortify plants with Se that can effectively deliver Se to the plant. Studies show that selenate-based fertilizers have a high potential to increase Se uptake by crops, and subsequently the Se intake in animals and humans. Agronomic Se biofortification of food crops has been practiced commercially in Se-deficient regions by adding inorganic fertilizers to soils, e.g., in Finland, United Kingdom, Europe, New Zealand, Africa, and in China. The most commonly added form of Se used in these studies selenate, and to a lesser extent selenite as sodium or barium salts, can be applied in granular or blended forms directly to the soil, or as high volume liquid drenches, much of which will enter the soil. As an alternative, foliar application of Se has been used for enriching agricultural products. With this method, a Se-containing solution is sprayed onto leaf surface of the crop. The use of Se-enriched organic or green fertilizers may be another effective alternative soil amendment to produce Se biofortified crops. Early work showed that Se applied via organic matter (green manure) can be taken up by various plant species. Another biofortification option is to exploit the possibility of producing Se-enriched food and feed products grown in soils naturally abundant in Se, such as in Enshi and Ziyang, China, South Dakota, USA, and Punjab, India. In conclusion, biofortification of Se is based firstly upon the identification and planting of more efficient Se absorbing crop cultivars/ varieties consumed in a target region, timely applications of Se fertilizers via roots or foliar surface, long term crop breeding, and possible genetic manipulation, all contribute to increasing Se intake and bioaccessibility of Se in human and animals in Se deficient regions.