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Phytic acid and phosphorus in crop seeds and fruits: a global estimate

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 February 2007

John N.A. Lott1*
Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4K1
Irene Ockenden
Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4K1
Victor Raboy
National Small Grains Germplasm Research Facility, United States Department of Agriculture,Agricultural Research Service, P.O. Box 307, Aberdeen, Idaho 83210, USA
Graeme D. Batten
Yanco Agricultural Institute, Yanco, New South Wales, Australia, 2703
*Fax: (905) 522-6066 Email:


A very important mineral storage compound in seeds is phytate, a mixed cation salt of phytic acid (myo-inositol hexakis phosphoric acid). This compound is important for several reasons: (1) It is vital for seed/grain development and successful seedling growth. (2) It is often considered to be an antinutritional substance in human diets, but it may have a positivenutritional role as an anti-oxidant and an anti-cancer agent. (3) It represents a very significant amount of phosphorus being extracted from soilsand subsequently removed with the crop. (4) It plays a role in eutrophication of waterways. A key part of this review is an estimate of the annualtonnage of phosphorus and phytic acid sequestered in up to 4.1 billion metric tonnes of crop seeds and fruits globally each year. We estimate thatnearly 35 million metric tonnes of phytic acid, containing 9.9 million metric tonnes of P, is combined with about 12.5 and 3.9 million metric tonnes of K and Mg respectively, to form each year over 51 million metric tonnes of phytate. The amount of P inthis phytate is equal to nearly 65÷ of the elemental P sold world wide for use in mineral fertilizers. Dry cereal grains account for 69÷ of the total crop seed/fruit production but account for 77÷ of the total phytic acid stored each year. Low phytate mutants, that are now available for some key staple food crops such as maize and barley, offer potential benefits in such areas as the sustainability of lands used to grow crops, the mineral nutrition of humans and animals, and reduction in pollution of waterways.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2000

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