The characterization of the adaptive responses of durum wheat to different Fe availability highlights an optimum Fe requirement threshold
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Plant mechanisms responding to iron (Fe) deficiency have been widely described; it is well known that Strategy II plants, as durum wheat, cope with this stress by increasing both the synthesis and secretion of phytosiderophores (PS). The important contribution of the sulfate assimilatory pathway has been also demonstrated to improve Fe use efficiency in several grasses, such as maize, barley and wheat, most likely because PS are produced from nicotianamine, whose precursor is methionine. Here, the physiological response of durum wheat (T. durum L.) plants - in terms of plant ionome, PS release, thiols content and S pathway-related enzymes – was investigated by gradually decreasing Fe availability that allowed the identification of three specific limit Fe concentrations: 75 μM, 25 μM and 0 μM Fe, i.e. the complete Fe deprivation. At each limit, plants begin to induce different and specific adaptive responses to improve Fe acquisition or to reduce the damage resulting from limited Fe availability. The identification of the Fe availability level below which durum wheat plants start an expensive metabolic reorganization of S and several other elements, could be of benefit not only for an effective cultivation of the crop but also for the grain quality.
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