Most plant species develop stress symptoms when exposed to high ammonium (NH4+) concentrations. The root is the first organ in contact with high NH4+ and therefore the first barrier to cope with ammonium stress. In this work, we focused on root adaptation to ammonium nutrition in the model plant Brachypodium distachyon. Proteome analysis revealed changes associated with primary metabolism, cell wall remodelling, and redox homeostasis. In addition, it showed a strong induction of proteins related to methionine (Met) metabolism and phytosiderophore (PS) synthesis in ammonium-fed plants. In agreement with this, we show how ammonium nutrition impacts Met/S-adenosyl-Met and PS metabolic pathways together with increasing root iron content. Nevertheless, ammonium-fed plants displayed higher sensitivity to iron deficiency, suggesting that ammonium nutrition triggers impaired iron utilization and root to shoot transport, which entailed an induction in iron-related responses. Overall, this work demonstrates the importance of iron homeostasis during ammonium nutrition and paves a new way to better understand and improve ammonium use efficiency and tolerance.
Keywords: Brachypodium; Ammonium; iron; metabolism; methionine; nitrate; nitrogen; phytosiderophores; root.
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