Transport of cadmium from soil to grain in cereal crops: A review

Jian Feng MA, Ren Fang SHEN, Shao Jifeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Due to rapid urbanization and industrialization, many soils for crop production are contaminated by cadmium (Cd), a heavy metal highly toxic to many organisms. Cereal crops such as rice, wheat, maize, and barley are the primary dietary source of Cd for humans, and reducing Cd transfer from soil to their grains is therefore an important issue for food safety. During the last decade, great progress has been made in elucidating the molecular mechanisms of Cd transport, particularly in rice. Inter- and intraspecific variations in Cd accumulation have been observed in cereal crops. Transporters for Cd have been identified in rice and other cereal crops using genotypic differences in Cd accumulation and mutant approaches. These transporters belong to different transporter families and are involved in the uptake, vacuolar sequestration, root-to-shoot translocation, and distribution of Cd. Attempts have been made to reduce Cd accumulation in grains by manipulating these transporters through overexpression or knockout of the transporter genes, as well as through marker-assisted selection breeding based on genotypic differences in Cd accumulation in the grains. In this review, we describe recent progress on molecular mechanisms of Cd accumulation in cereal crops and compare different molecular strategies for minimizing Cd accumulation in grains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • barley
  • gene knockout
  • gene overexpression
  • genotypic difference
  • maize
  • rice
  • transporter
  • wheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


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