Centro de Biotecnología y Genómica de Plantas (CBGP), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Campus de Montegancedo, Crta. M40 km 37, 28223 Pozuelo de Alarcón, Madrid, Spain
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X-Ray Science Division, Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois, USA
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain
Paramount to symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) is the synthesis of a number of metalloenzymes that use iron as a critical component of their catalytical core. Since this process is carried out by endosymbiotic rhizobia living in legume root nodules, the mechanisms involved in iron delivery to the rhizobia-containing cells are critical for SNF. In order to gain insight into iron transport to the nodule, we have used synchrotron-based X-ray fluorescence to determine the spatio-temporal distribution of this metal in nodules of the legume Medicago truncatula with hitherto unattained sensitivity and resolution. The data support a model in which iron is released from the vasculature into the apoplast of the infection/differentiation zone of the nodule (zone II). The infected cell subsequently takes up this apoplastic iron and delivers it to the symbiosome and the secretory system to synthesize ferroproteins. Upon senescence, iron is relocated to the vasculature to be reused by the shoot. These observations highlight the important role of yet to be discovered metal transporters in iron compartmentalization in the nodule and in the recovery of an essential and scarce nutrient for flowering and seed production.