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1.  Fe deficiency differentially affects the vacuolar proton pumps in cucumber and soybean roots 
Iron uptake in dicots depends on their ability to induce a set of responses in root cells including rhizosphere acidification through H+ extrusion and apoplastic Fe(III) reduction by Fe(III)-chelate reductase. These responses must be sustained by metabolic rearrangements aimed at providing the required NAD(P)H, ATP and H+. Previous results in Fe-deficient cucumber roots showed that high H+ extrusion is accompanied by increased phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) activity, involved in the cytosol pH-stat; moreover 31P-NMR analysis revealed increased vacuolar pH and decreased vacuolar [inorganic phosphate (Pi)]. The opposite was found in soybean: low rhizosphere acidification, decreased PEPC activity, vacuole acidification, and increased vacuolar [Pi]. These findings, highlighting a different impact of the Fe deficiency responses on cytosolic pH in the two species, lead to hypothesize different roles for H+ and Pi movements across the tonoplast in pH homeostasis. The role of vacuole in cytosolic pH-stat involves the vacuolar H+-ATPase (V-ATPase) and vacuolar H+-pyrophosphatase (V-PPase) activities, which generating the ΔpH and ΔΨ, mediate the transport of solutes, among which Pi, across the tonoplast. Fluxes of Pi itself in its two ionic forms, H2PO4- predominating in the vacuole and HPO42- in the cytosol, may be involved in pH homeostasis owing to its pH-dependent protonation/deprotonation reactions. Tonoplast enriched fractions were obtained from cucumber and soybean roots grown with or without Fe. Both V-ATPase and V-PPase activities were analyzed and the enrichment and localization of the corresponding proteins in root tissues were determined by Western blot and immunolocalization. V-ATPase did not change its activity and expression level in response to Fe starvation in both species. V-PPase showed a different behavior: in cucumber roots its activity and abundance were decreased, while in Fe-deficient soybean roots they were increased. The distinct role of the two H+ pumps in Pi fluxes between cytoplasm and vacuole in Fe-deficient cucumber and soybean root cells is discussed.
doi:10.3389/fpls.2013.00326
PMCID: PMC3753452  PMID: 23986768
V-ATPase; V-PPase; Fe deficiency; cucumber; soybean
2.  Cellular iron homeostasis and metabolism in plant 
doi:10.3389/fpls.2013.00490
PMCID: PMC3847546  PMID: 24348493
plant Fe homeostasis; plant metabolism; chloroplast; mitochondrion; vacuole; Fe transporters; Fe-S clusters; plant Fe localization
3.  A Drought Resistance-Promoting Microbiome Is Selected by Root System under Desert Farming 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48479.
Background
Traditional agro-systems in arid areas are a bulwark for preserving soil stability and fertility, in the sight of “reverse desertification”. Nevertheless, the impact of desert farming practices on the diversity and abundance of the plant associated microbiome is poorly characterized, including its functional role in supporting plant development under drought stress.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We assessed the structure of the microbiome associated to the drought-sensitive pepper plant (Capsicum annuum L.) cultivated in a traditional Egyptian farm, focusing on microbe contribution to a crucial ecosystem service, i.e. plant growth under water deficit. The root system was dissected by sampling root/soil with a different degree of association to the plant: the endosphere, the rhizosphere and the root surrounding soil that were compared to the uncultivated soil. Bacterial community structure and diversity, determined by using Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis, differed according to the microhabitat, indicating a selective pressure determined by the plant activity. Similarly, culturable bacteria genera showed different distribution in the three root system fractions. Bacillus spp. (68% of the isolates) were mainly recovered from the endosphere, while rhizosphere and the root surrounding soil fractions were dominated by Klebsiella spp. (61% and 44% respectively). Most of the isolates (95%) presented in vitro multiple plant growth promoting (PGP) activities and stress resistance capabilities, but their distribution was different among the root system fractions analyzed, with enhanced abilities for Bacillus and the rhizobacteria strains. We show that the C. annuum rhizosphere under desert farming enriched populations of PGP bacteria capable of enhancing plant photosynthetic activity and biomass synthesis (up to 40%) under drought stress.
Conclusions/Significance
Crop cultivation provides critical ecosystem services in arid lands with the plant root system acting as a “resource island” able to attract and select microbial communities endowed with multiple PGP traits that sustain plant development under water limiting conditions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048479
PMCID: PMC3485337  PMID: 23119032
4.  Iron deficiency affects nitrogen metabolism in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) plants 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:189.
Background
Nitrogen is a principal limiting nutrient in plant growth and development. Among factors that may limit NO3- assimilation, Fe potentially plays a crucial role being a metal cofactor of enzymes of the reductive assimilatory pathway. Very few information is available about the changes of nitrogen metabolism occurring under Fe deficiency in Strategy I plants. The aim of this work was to study how cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) plants modify their nitrogen metabolism when grown under iron deficiency.
Results
The activity of enzymes involved in the reductive assimilation of nitrate and the reactions that produce the substrates for the ammonium assimilation both at root and at leaf levels in Fe-deficient cucumber plants were investigated. Under Fe deficiency, only nitrate reductase (EC 1.7.1.1) activity decreased both at the root and leaf level, whilst for glutamine synthetase (EC 6.3.1.2) and glutamate synthase (EC 1.4.1.14) an increase was found. Accordingly, the transcript analysis for these enzymes showed the same behaviour except for root nitrate reductase which increased. Furthermore, it was found that amino acid concentration greatly decreased in Fe-deficient roots, whilst it increased in the corresponding leaves. Moreover, amino acids increased in the xylem sap of Fe-deficient plants.
Conclusions
The data obtained in this work provided new insights on the responses of plants to Fe deficiency, suggesting that this nutritional disorder differentially affected N metabolism in root and in leaf. Indeed under Fe deficiency, roots respond more efficiently, sustaining the whole plant by furnishing metabolites (i.e. aa, organic acids) to the leaves.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-189
PMCID: PMC3539955  PMID: 23057967
C/N metabolism; Cucumis sativus L.; Fe deficiency; GS/GOGAT cycle; Isocitrate dehydrogenase; Nitrate reductase
5.  Proteomic characterization of iron deficiency responses in Cucumis sativus L. roots 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:268.
Background
Iron deficiency induces in Strategy I plants physiological, biochemical and molecular modifications capable to increase iron uptake from the rhizosphere. This effort needs a reorganization of metabolic pathways to efficiently sustain activities linked to the acquisition of iron; in fact, carbohydrates and the energetic metabolism has been shown to be involved in these responses. The aim of this work was to find both a confirmation of the already expected change in the enzyme concentrations induced in cucumber root tissue in response to iron deficiency as well as to find new insights on the involvement of other pathways.
Results
The proteome pattern of soluble cytosolic proteins extracted from roots was obtained by 2-DE. Of about two thousand spots found, only those showing at least a two-fold increase or decrease in the concentration were considered for subsequent identification by mass spectrometry. Fifty-seven proteins showed significant changes, and 44 of them were identified. Twenty-one of them were increased in quantity, whereas 23 were decreased in quantity. Most of the increased proteins belong to glycolysis and nitrogen metabolism in agreement with the biochemical evidence. On the other hand, the proteins being decreased belong to the metabolism of sucrose and complex structural carbohydrates and to structural proteins.
Conclusions
The new available techniques allow to cast new light on the mechanisms involved in the changes occurring in plants under iron deficiency. The data obtained from this proteomic study confirm the metabolic changes occurring in cucumber as a response to Fe deficiency. Two main conclusions may be drawn. The first one is the confirmation of the increase in the glycolytic flux and in the anaerobic metabolism to sustain the energetic effort the Fe-deficient plants must undertake. The second conclusion is, on one hand, the decrease in the amount of enzymes linked to the biosynthesis of complex carbohydrates of the cell wall, and, on the other hand, the increase in enzymes linked to the turnover of proteins.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-268
PMCID: PMC3016405  PMID: 21122124
6.  Changes in the proteomic and metabolic profiles of Beta vulgaris root tips in response to iron deficiency and resupply 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:120.
Background
Plants grown under iron deficiency show different morphological, biochemical and physiological changes. These changes include, among others, the elicitation of different strategies to improve the acquisition of Fe from the rhizosphere, the adjustment of Fe homeostasis processes and a reorganization of carbohydrate metabolism. The application of modern techniques that allow the simultaneous and untargeted analysis of multiple proteins and metabolites can provide insight into multiple processes taking place in plants under Fe deficiency. The objective of this study was to characterize the changes induced in the root tip proteome and metabolome of sugar beet plants in response to Fe deficiency and resupply.
Results
Root tip extract proteome maps were obtained by 2-D isoelectric focusing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and approximately 140 spots were detected. Iron deficiency resulted in changes in the relative amounts of 61 polypeptides, and 22 of them were identified by mass spectrometry (MS). Metabolites in root tip extracts were analyzed by gas chromatography-MS, and more than 300 metabolites were resolved. Out of 77 identified metabolites, 26 changed significantly with Fe deficiency. Iron deficiency induced increases in the relative amounts of proteins and metabolites associated to glycolysis, tri-carboxylic acid cycle and anaerobic respiration, confirming previous studies. Furthermore, a protein not present in Fe-sufficient roots, dimethyl-8-ribityllumazine (DMRL) synthase, was present in high amounts in root tips from Fe-deficient sugar beet plants and gene transcript levels were higher in Fe-deficient root tips. Also, a marked increase in the relative amounts of the raffinose family of oligosaccharides (RFOs) was observed in Fe-deficient plants, and a further increase in these compounds occurred upon short term Fe resupply.
Conclusions
The increases in DMRL synthase and in RFO sugars were the major changes induced by Fe deficiency and resupply in root tips of sugar beet plants. Flavin synthesis could be involved in Fe uptake, whereas RFO sugars could be involved in the alleviation of oxidative stress, C trafficking or cell signalling. Our data also confirm the increase in proteins and metabolites related to carbohydrate metabolism and TCA cycle pathways.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-120
PMCID: PMC3017792  PMID: 20565974
7.  The fate and the role of mitochondria in Fe-deficient roots of strategy I plants 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2009;4(5):375-379.
In well aerated soils, iron exists, mainly as scarcely soluble oxides and oxi-hydroxides and, therefore, not freely available to plants uptake, notwithstanding its abundance. Multifaceted strategies involving reductase activities, proton processes, specialized storage proteins, and other, act in concert to mobilize iron from the environment, to take it up and to distribute it inside the plant. Because of its fundamental role in plant productivity several questions concerning homeostasis of iron in plants are currently a matter of intense debate. We discuss some recent studies on Strategy I responses in dicotyledonous plants focusing on metabolic change induced by iron deficiency, mainly concerning the involvement of mitochondria.
PMCID: PMC2676746  PMID: 19816113
Fe deficiency; glycolysis; mitochondria; reducing equivalents; respiratory chain; TCA cycle

Results 1-7 (7)