Agronomy and Horticulture Department



Brian M. Waters

Date of this Version



Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 63, No. 2, pp. 1039–1055



Copyright 2011 Ricard J. Stein and Brian M. Waters. Used by permission.


Iron (Fe) is an essential mineral micronutrient for plants and animals. Plants respond to Fe deficiency by increasing root uptake capacity. Identification of gene networks for Fe uptake and homeostasis could result in improved crop growth and nutritional value. Previous studies have used microarrays to identify a large number of genes regulated by Fe deficiency in roots of three Arabidopsis ecotypes. However, a large proportion of these genes may be involved in secondary or genotype-influenced responses rather than in a universal role in Fe uptake or homeostasis. Here we show that a small percentage of the Fe deficiency transcriptome of two contrasting ecotypes, Kas-1 and Tsu-1, was shared with other ecotypes. Kas-1 and Tsu-1 had different timing and magnitude of ferric reductase activity upon Fe withdrawal, and different categories of overrepresented Fe-regulated genes. To gain insights into universal responses of Arabidopsis to Fe deficiency, the Kas-1 and Tsu-1 transcriptomes were compared with those of Col-0, Ler, and C24. In early Fe deficiency (24–48 h), no Fe-downregulated genes and only 10 upregulated genes were found in all ecotypes, and only 20 Fe-downregulated and 58 upregulated genes were found in at least three of the five ecotypes. Supernode gene networks were constructed to visualize conserved Fe homeostasis responses. Contrasting gene expression highlighted different responses to Fe deficiency between ecotypes. This study demonstrates the use of natural variation to identify central Fe-deficiency-regulated genes in plants, and identified genes with potential new roles in signalling during Fe deficiency.