Study on biological significance of regulating iron loading during seed development

Iron (Fe) storage in plant seeds is not only necessary for seedling establishment following germination, but also a major source of dietary Fe for human and animal life. Mother plants transport iron into seeds for storage during the fruit-bearing process. However, an excessive amount of iron is toxic to cells. Iron loading is restricted at the initial stage of seed development. Nevertheless, how plants regulate early seed iron loading and the biological function of this process remain elusive.

The research team led by Prof. Zheng Shao-Jian from the Zhejiang University College of Life Sciences engaged in research into the underlying mechanism and biological significance of seed Fe accumulation. Their research findings are published in a research article entitled “Restriction of Iron Loading into Developing Seeds by A YABBY Transcription Factor Safeguards Successful Reproduction in Arabidopsis” in the journal Molecular Plant.

In their study, researchers observed that the expression of natural resistance associated macrophage protein, which encodes a Fe transporter, was significantly enhanced in inner no outer (INO) knockdown mutants. In contrast, transgenic overexpression of INO has an opposite effect.

This research may also provide a molecular basis for improvement of the seed Fe content of crops, e.g., by tissue-specific manipulation of INO expression to a level that confers increased seed Fe loading but has no harmful effect on embryogenesis or seed set. “The promotion of seed anti-oxidative capacity should also be considered in future crop breeding strategies aimed at increasing seed Fe accumulation,” said Zheng.

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