, Volume 241, Issue 1, pp 67-74

Does high bicarbonate supply to roots change availability of iron in the leaf apoplast?

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The role of the leaf apoplast in iron (Fe) uptake into the leaf symplast is insufficiently understood, particularly in relation to the supposed inactivation of Fe in leaves caused by elevated bicarbonate in calcareous soils. It has been supposed that high bicarbonate supply to roots increases the pH of the leaf apoplast which decreases the physiological availability of Fe in leaf tissues. The study reported here has been carried out with sunflower plants grown in nutrient solution and with grapevine plants grown on calcareous soil under field conditions. The data obtained clearly show that the pH of the leaf apoplastic fluid was not affected by high bicarbonate supply in the root medium (nutrient solution and field experiments). The concentrations of total, symplastic and apoplastic Fe were decreased in chlorotic leaves of both sunflower (nutrient solution experiment) and grapevine plants in which leaf expansion was slightly inhibited (field experiment). However, in grapevine showing severe inhibition of leaf growth, total Fe concentration in chlorotic leaves was the same or even higher than in green ones, indicative to the so-called `chlorosis paradox'. The findings do not support the hypothesis of Fe inactivation in the leaf apoplast as the cause of Fe deficiency chlorosis since no increase was found in the relative amount of apoplastic Fe (% of total leaf Fe) either in the leaves of sunflower or grapevine plants. It is concluded that high bicarbonate concentration in the soil solution does not decrease Fe availability in the leaf apoplast.