Crop Biotech Update

Research Groups Discover How Plants Cope with Iron Deficiency

February 6, 2019

Research groups from Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) and the University of Münster (WWU) have discovered a new switch that plants use to control their responses to iron deficiency.

Iron regulation is an important model system in plant biology for understanding how cellular regulation processes impact on each other and the related signalling paths. The HHU and WWU research teams have examined the special mechanisms and dynamics of a protein named "FIT" in iron uptake and have discovered cellular information processes that impact on FIT. The protein was discovered by Prof. Petra Bauer's group. 

The regulation mechanisms are being examined at the Institute of Botany at HHU. FIT can be present in an active and inactive state. It plays a key role in regulating iron uptake in Arabidopsis thaliana. How the plant decides how much iron to absorb and how to transmit this information to the FIT regulator is, however, the subject of current research at HHU. The WWU research group looked at calcium signal transduction which involves response to iron deficiency. They then analyzed the iron concentration in the plants.

The precise link between iron and calcium was unclear. However, the research groups have found that iron deficiency triggers calcium signals, having a significant influence on the FIT regulation mechanism. They describe how the enzyme CIPK11 linked to calcium detection interacts with and mark the FIT protein. Plants ultimately use this FIT activation to control iron uptake in its roots and iron storage in its seeds.

For details, read the research news from HHU.