Iron transport in plants: better be safe than sorry

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2013 Jun;16(3):322-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2013.01.003. Epub 2013 Feb 14.


Iron is essential for plant cell function and more specifically for photosynthesis. Plants have evolved highly efficient systems to take up iron from the soil. However, activating iron uptake is a double jeopardy: not only iron itself is toxic but iron uptake systems are poorly selective and allow the entry of other potentially toxic metals. Plants therefore tightly control iron uptake at the transcriptional and post-translational level and have evolved mechanisms to cope with the concomitant entry of toxic metals. In plant cells, iron has to be distributed to chloroplasts and mitochondria or may be stored safely in vacuole. Distinct transcriptional networks regulating uptake and intracellular distribution are being uncovered, while iron sensing mechanisms remain elusive.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Ion Transport* / genetics
  • Metals / metabolism
  • Metals / pharmacokinetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Oryza / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Plastids / metabolism
  • Vacuoles / metabolism


  • Metals