Copper and iron homeostasis in Arabidopsis: responses to metal deficiencies, interactions and biotechnological applications

Plant Cell Environ. 2007 Mar;30(3):271-290. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2007.01642.x.


Plants have developed sophisticated mechanisms to tightly control the acquisition and distribution of copper and iron in response to environmental fluctuations. Recent studies with Arabidopsis thaliana are allowing the characterization of the diverse families and components involved in metal uptake, such as metal-chelate reductases and plasma membrane transporters. In parallel, emerging data on both intra- and intercellular metal distribution, as well as on long-distance transport, are contributing to the understanding of metal homeostatic networks in plants. Furthermore, gene expression analyses are deciphering coordinated mechanisms of regulation and response to copper and iron limitation. Prioritizing the use of metals in essential versus dispensable processes, and substituting specific metalloproteins by other metal counterparts, are examples of plant strategies to optimize copper and iron utilization. The metabolic links between copper and iron homeostasis are well documented in yeast, algae and mammals. In contrast, interactions between both metals in vascular plants remain controversial, mainly owing to the absence of copper-dependent iron acquisition. This review describes putative interactions between both metals at different levels in plants. The characterization of plant copper and iron homeostasis should lead to biotechnological applications aimed at the alleviation of iron deficiency and copper contamination and, thus, have a beneficial impact on agricultural and human health problems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Agriculture
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Biotechnology*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Copper / metabolism*
  • FMN Reductase / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Homeostasis*
  • Iron / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • FMN Reductase
  • ferric citrate iron reductase
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases