Agronomy and Horticulture Department



Brian M. Waters

Date of this Version



Published in Plant Soil 352 (2012), pp. 185–197; doi: 10.1007/s11104-011-0988-3


Copyright © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Used by permission.


Aims: Iron (Fe) is an essential micronutrient, and plant-available Fe is often limited in alkaline soils. Fe deficiency chlorosis decreases plant growth and yield. Identification of germplasm with high and low Fe use efficiency will allow studies to better understand the genetic components for breeding Fe efficient varieties.

Methods: A screen using cucumber (Cucumis sativus) seedlings identified varieties that maintained contrasting levels of chlorophyll under Fe deficiency or limitation. A time course of mineral dynamics in cotyledons was conducted.

Results: The variety Ashley had the highest chlorophyll under Fe deficiency and per unit Fe in the leaf, while the variety Miniature White had the lowest. Ashley also maintained higher chlorophyll when challenged with low Fe or bicarbonate, accumulated greater quantities of Fe, and had higher root ferric reductase activity. Cotyledons accumulated minerals for the first several days, then Fe, P, K, and Cu were remobilized. The Fe use efficient and inefficient varieties remobilized Fe and P on different timescales.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that this screen can identify varieties for systems level studies that could elucidate factors needed for Fe use efficiency and remobilization of minerals. The time course indicated that cotyledon Fe stores did not contribute to seedling Fe use efficiency.

Includes supplementary materials.