Physiological and transcriptional analysis reveals pathways involved in iron deficiency chlorosis in fragrant citrus

Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Gene Expression


Iron (Fe) deficiency chlorosis is a yield-limiting problem in citrus production regions with calcareous soils. Physiological and transcriptional analyses of fragrant citrus (Citrus junos Sieb. ex Tanaka) leaves from Fe-sufficient (IS) and Fe-deficient (ID) plants were investigated in this study. The physiological results showed that Fe, potassium, and nitrogen levels decreased by 12, 15, and 41% in ID leaves, respectively. However, zinc and copper levels increased by 49 and 35% in ID leaves, respectively. The chlorophyll (Chl) content, photosynthesis rate, stomatal conductance, and transpiration rate in ID leaves decreased by 55, 33, 38, and 42%, respectively, compared with IS leaves. Moreover, transcriptional profiling analysis showed that genes associated with Chl metabolism, photosynthesis, and nitrogen metabolism were dramatically downregulated by Fe deficiency. The expression of glutamyl-tRNA reductase 1, chlorophyll(ide) b reductase, and geranylgeranyl diphosphate reductase in ID leaves was 0.26–0.37 times that in IS leaves. The expression levels of 16 photosynthesis-related genes were severely downregulated by Fe deficiency. In addition, the transcription levels of nitrate transporter, nitrate reductase, and ferredoxin-nitrite reductase genes in ID leaves were 0.38–0.45 times those in IS leaves. Taken together, these results indicated that the block of Chl biosynthesis, the reduction of photosynthesis, and the repression of nitrogen absorption resulted in the chlorosis symptoms observed in fragrant citrus leaves.


Fragrant citrus Iron deficiency chlorosis Chlorophyll Photosynthesis Nitrogen metabolism 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31272121) and the earmarked fund for the China Agriculture Research System (CARS-27).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Table S1 (DOCX 12 kb).
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Table S2 (DOCX 11 kb).
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Fig. S1

Randomness assessments of the two libraries (GIF 5 kb).

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High resolution image (TIFF 1373 kb).
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Fig. S2

Sequencing saturation analysis of the two libraries (GIF 6 kb).

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High resolution image (TIFF 1372 kb).
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Fig. S3

Up- and downregulated genes in chlorosis leaves. (GIF 8 kb).

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High resolution image (TIFF 29 kb).
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Fig. S4

Gene classification of differently expressed genes (GIF 84 kb).

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High resolution image (TIFF 333 kb).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Horticultural Plant Biology, Ministry of EducationHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Horticultural Crop Biology and Genetic Improvement (Central Region), Ministry of EducationWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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