Mutant Series: IRON MAN (IMA)

Guess, how many people are suffering from Iron-deficiency induced anemia (IDA)?
It's more than one billion worldwide! 

The number is incredibly big. It was even difficult for me to believe at the first time. The main cause of the disease is iron (Fe) deficiency. Fe is by mass the most common element on earth. Plants uptake Fe and as a consumer, we obtain Fe from the edible parts of plants. Unfortunately, free forms of Fe is taken up by plants and some parts of the soil which is rare. This is how such an abundant element becomes unavailable. Simply, finding the plant capable of uptaking more Fe or efficient of Fe uptake from the Fe-deficient soil will help to provide good enough amount of Fe in our food and get rid of IDA. 

The image is collected from

Recently in a preprint, there is a report about a short 19 C-terminal amino acid sequence consensus motif which is indispensable for Fe uptake in plants. They named it IRON MAN (IMA). It's based on the name of the superhero and perfectly makes sense. Because the absence of this IMA makes plants difficult to survive. Arabidopsis contains 8 IMAs and when they knock out all 8, ima8x, of them, it can only survive with the exogenous application of Fe. At the same time, overexpression of IMA1 in ima8x background helps to restore Fe uptake capacity. 

Understanding the role of IMA will help to overcome the issue of Fe uptake by plants. As a result, engineered plants will be able to provide much more Fe containing food and reduce the prevalence of IDA. 

Doesn't it sound like the job of a superhero?
Plant biologists are always cool to have their own superheroes!  



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