Research Article

Iron excess in rice: from phenotypic changes to functional genomics of WRKY transcription factors


Iron (Fe) is an essential microelement for all living organisms playing important roles in several metabolic reactions. Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is commonly cultivated in paddy fields, where Fe goes through a reduction reaction from Fe3+ to Fe2+. Since Fe2+ is more soluble, it can reach toxic levels inside plant cells, constituting an important target for studies. Here we aimed to verify morphological changes of different rice genotypes focusing on deciphering the underlying molecular network induced upon Fe excess treatments with special emphasis on the role of four WRKY transcription factors. The transcriptional response peak of these WRKY transcription factors in rice seedlings occurs at 4 days of exposition to iron excess. OsWRKY55- like, OsWRKY46, OsWRKY64, and OsWRKY113 are up-regulated in BR IRGA 409, an iron-sensitive genotype, while in cultivars Nipponbare (moderately resistant) and EPAGRI 108 (resistant) the expression profiles of these transcription factors show similar behaviors. Here is also shown that some cis-regulatory elements known to be involved in other different stress responses can be linked to conditions of iron excess. Overall, here we support the role of WRKY transcription factors in iron stress tolerance with other important steps toward finding why some rice genotypes are more tolerant than others.