Identification of novel, bacteria assisted, iron acquisition strategies in Arabidopsis thaliana

  • Gabriel Xicoténcatl García Ramírez

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Iron is abundant in most agricultural systems, however it is also one of the three most limiting nutrients for crop growth. This can be attributed to iron’s low solubility in aerobic and alkaline conditions, rendering it non-bioavailable for plant uptake. With around 1/3 of the world arable land presenting conditions that limit iron solubility, deciphering the plant machinery behind iron uptake and identifying microbial benefits to iron deficiency are of major interest. In this work, 33 endophytic bacterial isolates previously isolated from three regions in Jordan were tested for iron stress alleviation of Arabidopsis plants with the goal of identifying novel interaction mechanisms. On media with a low concentration of bioavailable iron, 11 isolates were found to be beneficial, while 15 isolates behaved in a pathogenic manner, reducing plant growth in both control as well as limited iron conditions. Beneficial isolates were then tested in plant assays with non-bioavailable iron, we concluded that our strains are also beneficial in these conditions. To further characterize the interaction between the beneficial strains and Arabidopsis plants, gene expression was assessed for plants colonized with select strains. The highest expression of iron-deficiency response genes was at day 6. The increase in expression was also met with an increase in colonization of plants at day 6. Mutant studies revealed that the beneficial effect by the bacterial isolates is dependent on the coumarin pathway, with mutants in FERULOYL-COA 6-HYDROXYLASE 1, f6’h1, showing a drastic decrease in fresh weight compared to wild type counterparts. We also discovered the phytohormone abscisic acid as an important contributor to iron stress alleviation by the beneficial isolates. Colonization assays as well as additional mutant studies will be necessary to further assess the effect of f6’h1 mutants on plant-microbe interaction as well as ABA’s role in plants under iron deficient conditions.
Date of AwardJul 2022
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorHeribert Hirt (Supervisor)


  • PGPR
  • plant nutrition
  • iron nutrition
  • plant commensals

Cite this