Agronomy and Horticulture Department



Brian M. Waters

Date of this Version



Published in Plant Physiology 129 (May 2002), pp. 85–94; doi: 10.1104/pp.010829


Copyright © 2002 American Society of Plant Biologists. Used by permission.


To acquire iron, many plant species reduce soil Fe(III) to Fe(II) by Fe(III)-chelate reductases embedded in the plasma membrane of root epidermal cells. The reduced product is then taken up by Fe(II) transporter proteins. These activities are induced under Fe deficiency. We describe here the FRO1 gene from pea (Pisum sativum), which encodes an Fe(III)-chelate reductase. Consistent with this proposed role, FRO1 shows similarity to other oxidoreductase proteins, and expression of FRO1 in yeast conferred increased Fe(III)-chelate reductase activity. Furthermore, FRO1 mRNA levels in plants correlated with Fe(III)-chelate reductase activity. Sites of FRO1 expression in roots, leaves, and nodules were determined. FRO1 mRNA was detected throughout the root, but was most abundant in the outer epidermal cells. Expression was detected in mesophyll cells in leaves. In root nodules, mRNA was detected in the infection zone and nitrogen-fixing region. These results indicate that FRO1 acts in root Fe uptake and they suggest a role in Fe distribution throughout the plant. Characterization of FRO1 has also provided new insights into the regulation of Fe uptake. FRO1 expression and reductase activity was detected only in Fe-deficient roots of Sparkle, whereas both were constitutive in brz and dgl, two mutants with incorrectly regulated Fe accumulation. In contrast, FRO1 expression was responsive to Fe status in shoots of all three plant lines. These results indicate differential regulation of FRO1 in roots and shoots, and improper FRO1 regulation in response to a shoot-derived signal of iron status in the roots of the brz and dgl mutants.