, Volume 202, Issue 3-4, pp 122-133

Iron-rich particles in embryos of seeds from the family Pinaceae

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Iron-rich particles, previously reported in seeds of members of the genus Pinus, were found in radicle-hypocotyl tissues of dry embryos from eight other genera in the family Pinaceae. Thus, these Fe-rich particles are of common occurrence in seeds of this conifer family. These particles were most difficult to locate inPseudolarix amabilis, which has green embryos. Energy-dispersive X-ray analysis was used to determine the elements present in conifer Fe-rich particles and phytoferritin deposits in pea embryo axes. Ferich particles from all species studied contained mainly Fe and P but also contained considerable K and Mg. Abietoideae group I (genera Cedrus andAbies) had lower Fe ∶ P ratios compared to all the other combined subfamilies within the Pinaceae. Pea phytoferritin deposits contained markedly lower amounts of P relative to Fe based on peakto-background ratios and quantitative values calculated by using a ferric phosphate standard. We also found, for the first time, that pea phytoferritin contained considerable K. A strong similarity was found between the energy-dispersive X-ray analysis spectra from Ferich particles and portions of a laboratory-synthesized Fe, K, Mg phytate salt. Phytate is a common mineral-nutrient storage compound in seeds. The possibility of these Fe-rich particles being phytoferritin cannot be ruled out, but if they are phytoferritin, they have lower Fe ∶ P ratios than almost all other ferritins reported to date.