Iron homeostasis and plant immune responses: Recent insights and translational implications
Herlihy, John H.
Long, Terri A.
McDowell, John M.
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Iron metabolism and the plant immune system are both critical for plant vigor in natural ecosystems and for reliable agricultural productivity. Mechanistic studies of plant iron home-ostasis and plant immunity have traditionally been carried out in isolation from each other; however, our growing understanding of both processes has uncovered significant connections. For example, iron plays a critical role in the generation of reactive oxygen intermediates during immunity and has been recently implicated as a critical factor for immune-initiated cell death via ferroptosis. Moreover, plant iron stress triggers immune activation, suggesting that sensing of iron depletion is a mechanism by which plants recognize a pathogen threat. The iron deficiency response engages hormone signaling sectors that are also utilized for plant immune signaling, providing a probable explanation for iron-immunity cross-talk. Finally, interference with iron acquisition by pathogens might be a critical component of the immune response. Efforts to address the global burden of iron deficiency-related anemia have focused on classical breeding and transgenic approaches to develop crops biofortified for iron content. However, our improved mechanistic understanding of plant iron metabolism suggests that such alterations could promote or impede plant immunity, depending on the nature of the alteration and the virulence strategy of the pathogen. Effects of iron biofortification on disease resistance should be evaluated while developing plants for iron biofortification.