Placing metal micronutrients in context: transport and distribution in plants

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2009 Jun;12(3):299-306. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2009.04.008. Epub 2009 May 27.


Plants have developed finely tuned mechanisms to efficiently acquire and balance the concentrations of essential metal micronutrients including iron, zinc, copper, and manganese, both at the cellular and systemic levels. The application of new emerging technologies to the study of Arabidopsis thaliana is providing a novel spatiotemporal view of plant metal homeostasis. These advances are uncovering unexpected links of metal homeostasis to central cellular processes, such as compartmentalization, daily redox oscillations, or transcriptional regulation. The intracellular compartmentalization of metals seems essential for optimizing the use of micronutrients during development and in response to deficiencies. Furthermore, recent discoveries indicate that protein metallation is highly sensitive to surrounding conditions, including metal redox state and concentration. Thus, some steps in metal delivery occur during protein folding at specific intracellular compartments. Finally, the daily nature in redox oscillations should be taken into account for a comprehensive understanding of global plant metal homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport / physiology*
  • Metals / metabolism*
  • Micronutrients / metabolism*
  • Plants / metabolism*


  • Metals
  • Micronutrients