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1.  Variation and inheritance of iron reductase activity in the roots of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) and association with seed iron accumulation QTL 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:215.
Iron deficiency anemia is a global problem which often affects women and children of developing countries. Strategy I plants, such as common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) take up iron through a process that involves an iron reduction mechanism in their roots; this reduction is required to convert ferric iron to ferrous iron. Root absorbed iron is critical for the iron nutrition of the plant, and for the delivery of iron to the shoot and ultimately the seeds. The objectives of this study were to determine the variability and inheritance for iron reductase activity in a range of genotypes and in a low × high seed iron cross (DOR364 × G19833), to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) for this trait, and to assess possible associations with seed iron levels.
The experiments were carried out with hydroponically grown plants provided different amounts of iron varying between 0 and 20 μM Fe(III)-EDDHA. The parents, DOR364 and G19833, plus 13 other cultivated or wild beans, were found to differ in iron reductase activity. Based on these initial experiments, two growth conditions (iron limited and iron sufficient) were selected as treatments for evaluating the DOR364 × G19833 recombinant inbred lines. A single major QTL was found for iron reductase activity under iron-limited conditions (1 μM Fe) on linkage group b02 and another major QTL was found under iron sufficient conditions (15 μM Fe) on linkage group b11. Associations between the b11 QTL were found with several QTL for seed iron.
Genes conditioning iron reductase activity in iron sufficient bean plants appear to be associated with genes contributing to seed iron accumulation. Markers for bean iron reductase (FRO) homologues were found with in silico mapping based on common bean synteny with soybean and Medicago truncatula on b06 and b07; however, neither locus aligned with the QTL for iron reductase activity. In summary, the QTL for iron reductase activity under iron limited conditions may be useful in environments where beans are grown in alkaline soils, while the QTL for iron reductase under sufficiency conditions may be useful for selecting for enhanced seed nutritional quality.
PMCID: PMC3095315  PMID: 20923552
2.  Iron and ferritin accumulate in separate cellular locations in Phaseolus seeds 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:26.
Iron is an important micronutrient for all living organisms. Almost 25% of the world population is affected by iron deficiency, a leading cause of anemia. In plants, iron deficiency leads to chlorosis and reduced yield. Both animals and plants may suffer from iron deficiency when their diet or environment lacks bioavailable iron. A sustainable way to reduce iron malnutrition in humans is to develop staple crops with increased content of bioavailable iron. Knowledge of where and how iron accumulates in seeds of crop plants will increase the understanding of plant iron metabolism and will assist in the production of staples with increased bioavailable iron.
Here we reveal the distribution of iron in seeds of three Phaseolus species including thirteen genotypes of P. vulgaris, P. coccineus, and P. lunatus. We showed that high concentrations of iron accumulate in cells surrounding the provascular tissue of P. vulgaris and P. coccineus seeds. Using the Perls' Prussian blue method, we were able to detect iron in the cytoplasm of epidermal cells, cells near the epidermis, and cells surrounding the provascular tissue. In contrast, the protein ferritin that has been suggested as the major iron storage protein in legumes was only detected in the amyloplasts of the seed embryo. Using the non-destructive micro-PIXE (Particle Induced X-ray Emission) technique we show that the tissue in the proximity of the provascular bundles holds up to 500 μg g-1 of iron, depending on the genotype. In contrast to P. vulgaris and P. coccineus, we did not observe iron accumulation in the cells surrounding the provascular tissues of P. lunatus cotyledons. A novel iron-rich genotype, NUA35, with a high concentration of iron both in the seed coat and cotyledons was bred from a cross between an Andean and a Mesoamerican genotype.
The presented results emphasize the importance of complementing research in model organisms with analysis in crop plants and they suggest that iron distribution criteria should be integrated into selection strategies for bean biofortification.
PMCID: PMC2831038  PMID: 20149228

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