Iron uptake, translocation, and regulation in higher plants

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2012;63:131-52. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042811-105522. Epub 2012 Jan 30.


Iron is essential for the survival and proliferation of all plants. Higher plants have developed two distinct strategies to acquire iron, which is only slightly soluble, from the rhizosphere: the reduction strategy of nongraminaceous plants and the chelation strategy of graminaceous plants. Key molecular components-including transporters, enzymes, and chelators-have been clarified for both strategies, and many of these components are now thought to also function inside the plant to facilitate internal iron transport. Transporters for intracellular iron trafficking are also being clarified. A majority of genes encoding these components are transcriptionally regulated in response to iron availability. Recent research has uncovered central transcription factors, cis-acting elements, and molecular mechanisms regulating these genes. Manipulation of these molecular components has produced transgenic crops with enhanced tolerance to iron deficiency or with increased iron content in the edible parts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Embryophyta
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology*
  • Ion Transport / physiology*
  • Iron / pharmacokinetics*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Protein Transport
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Plant Proteins
  • Iron