, Volume 75, Issue 6, pp 593-605
Date: 18 Feb 2011

OsIRO2 is responsible for iron utilization in rice and improves growth and yield in calcareous soil

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Abstract

Iron (Fe) deficiency, a worldwide agricultural problem on calcareous soil with low Fe availability, is also a major human nutritional deficit. Plants induce Fe acquisition systems under conditions of low Fe availability. Previously, we reported that an Fe-deficiency-inducible basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor, OsIRO2, is responsible for regulation of the genes involved in Fe homeostasis in rice. Using promoter-GUS transformants, we showed that OsIRO2 is expressed throughout a plant’s lifetime in a spatially and temporally similar manner to the genes OsNAS1, OsNAS2 and TOM1, which is involved in Fe absorption and translocation. During germination, OsIRO2 expression was detected in embryos. OsIRO2 expression in vegetative tissues was restricted almost exclusively to vascular bundles of roots and leaves, and to the root exodermis under Fe-sufficient conditions, and expanded to all tissues of roots and leaves in response to Fe deficiency. OsIRO2 expression was also detected in flowers and developing seeds. Plants overexpressing OsIRO2 grew better, and OsIRO2-repressed plants showed poor growth compared to non-transformant rice after germination. OsIRO2 overexpression also resulted in improved tolerance to low Fe availability in calcareous soil. In addition to increased Fe content in shoots, the overexpression plants accumulated higher amounts of Fe in seeds than non-transformants when grown on calcareous soil. These results suggest that OsIRO2 is synchronously expressed with genes involved in Fe homeostasis, and performs a crucial function in regulation not only of Fe uptake from soil but also Fe transport during germination and Fe translocation to grain during seed maturation.