China partnership exploring nutritional quality of rice

China is the world’s top producer and consumer of rice, with more than 140 million tonnes consumed each year. However, rice is poor in the important mineral nutrients, zinc and iron, and can accumulate the potentially toxic trace elements, cadmium and arsenic.

Lead researcher: Professor David Salt

Professor David E Salt’s research group is uncovering mechanisms that control accumulation of both mineral nutrient and trace elements in plants. This includes discovering how plants make the Casparian strips that seal cells together in roots.

Long-term collaborations with Professor Fangjie Zhao and Dr Xin-Yan Huang (Nanjing Agriculture University, Nanjing) and Professor Dai-Yin Chao (CAS Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences, Shanghai) have been vital to start applying this mechanistic knowledge to developing more nutritious and safe rice. This work has the potential to deliver health benefits to people in China and globally.


The molecular basis underlying Casparian strip formation in rice and its role in water and solute uptake

Newton International Fellowship to Dr Yiqun Gao, 01/09/2020 – 31/08/2022, £101,816

Understanding the molecular biogenesis of Casparian Strips in rice and their roles in regulating rice ionome

Newton Advanced Fellowship to Prof Daiyin Chao, 31/03/2020 – 30/03/2022, £74,000

Elucidation of the mechanisms controlling heavy metal accumulation in rice based on ionomics and genomics approaches

National Science Foundation Council of China (NSFC) International Collaborative Project (PI Fangjie Zhou, Co-I David E Salt), 01/01/2016 – 31/12/2020, Nanjing Agricultural University ¥3,330,000

Selected publications

(*Co-corresponding authors)

  • Chen J, Huang XY, Salt DE, Zhao FJ (2020). Mutation in OsCADT1 enhances cadmium tolerance and enriches selenium in rice grain. New Phytol. 226(3):838-850.
  • Huang XY, Liu H, Zhu YF, Pinson SRM, Lin HX, Guerinot ML, Zhao FJ, Salt DE (2018). Natural variation in a molybdate transporter controls grain molybdenum concentration in rice. New Phytol. 221:1983-1997
  • Gao YQ, Chen JG, Chen ZR, An D, Lv QY, Han ML, Wang YL, Salt DE, Chao DY (2017). A new vesicle trafficking regulator CTL1 plays a crucial role in ion homeostasis. PLoS Biol. 15(12):e2002978.
  • Shi S, Wang T, Chen Z, Tang Z, Wu Z, Salt DE, Chao DY, Zhao F (2016). OsHAC1;1 and OsHAC1;2 Function as Arsenate Reductases and Regulate Arsenic Accumulation. Plant Physiol. 172:1708-1719.
  • Huang XY, Deng F, Yamaji N, Pinson SR, Fujii-Kashino M, Danku J, Douglas A, Guerinot ML, *Salt DE, *Ma JF (2016). A heavy metal P-type ATPase OsHMA4 prevents copper accumulation in rice grain. Nat Commun. 7:12138.
  • Yan J, Wang P, Wang P, Yang M, Lian X, Tang Z, Huang CF, Salt DE, Zhao FJ (2016). A loss-of-function allele of OsHMA3 associated with high cadmium accumulation in shoots and grain of Japonica rice cultivars. Plant Cell Environ. 39(9):1941-54.
  • Chao D-Y, Chen Y, Chen J, Shi S, Chen Z, Wang C, Danku JM, Zhao F-J, Salt DE (2014) Genome-wide association mapping identifies a new arsenate reductase enzyme critical for limiting arsenic accumulation in plants. PLoS Biol 12:e1002009
  • Chao DY, Dilkes B, Luo H, Douglas A, Yakubova E, Lahner B, Salt DE (2013). Polyploids Exhibit Higher Potassium Uptake and Salinity Tolerance in Arabidopsis. Science 341:658-9.

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