Iron (Fe) bio availability in soils is often limited and can be further exacerbated by a non- homogeneous distribution in the soil profile, which has been demonstrated to vary both in space and time.
Consequently, plants respond with morphological and physiological modifications at the root level involving a complex local and systemic signaling machinery. The present work unravels the role of two phytohormones (i.e., ethylene and auxin) and their integrated signaling in plant response to Fe deficiency.
Inhibitors of auxin polar transport and of ethylene biosynthesis were applied on tomato plants grown by the split-root technique, which allows to simulate condition of Fe heterogeneous distribution.
Results showed that plants, exposed to an uneven Fe supply, triggered a complex auxin-ethylene signaling. A systemic action of auxin on Ferric Reductase Oxidase 1 expression was revealed, while ethylene signaling was effective both locally and systemically.
In addition, the investigation of Fe concentration in tissues showed that when leaves overcame Fe deficiency a Fe “steady state” was maintained. Therefore, physiological adaptation to this heterogeneous Fe supply could be mediated by the integration of the complex signaling pathways prompted by both auxin and ethylene activities.