Iron allocation in leaves of Fe-deficient cucumber plants fed with natural Fe complexes
De Nobili M
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Iron (Fe) sources available for plants in the rhizospheric solution are mainly a mixture of complexes between Fe and organic ligands, including phytosiderophores (PS) and water-extractable humic substances (WEHS). In comparison with the other Fe sources, Fe-WEHS are more efficiently used by plants, and experimental evidences show that Fe translocation contributes to this better response. On the other hand, very little is known on the mechanisms involved in Fe allocation in leaves. In this work, physiological and molecular processes involved in Fe distribution in leaves of Fe-deficient Cucumis sativus supplied with Fe-PS or Fe-WEHS up to 5 days were studied combining different techniques, such as radiochemical experiments, synchrotron micro X-ray fluorescence, real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization. In Fe-WEHS-fed plants, Fe was rapidly (1 day) allocated into the leaf veins, and after 5 days, Fe was completely transferred into interveinal cells; moreover, the amount of accumulated Fe was much higher than with Fe-PS. This redistribution in Fe-WEHS plants was associated with an upregulation of genes encoding a ferric(III) -chelate reductase (FRO), a Fe(2+) transporter (IRT1) and a natural resistance-associated macrophage protein (NRAMP). The localization of FRO and IRT1 transcripts next to the midveins, beside that of NRAMP in the interveinal area, may suggest a rapid and efficient response induced by the presence of Fe-WEHS in the extra-radical solution for the allocation in leaves of high amounts of Fe. In conclusion, Fe is more efficiently used when chelated to WEHS than PS and seems to involve Fe distribution and gene regulation of Fe acquisition mechanisms operating in leaves.