Genetic basis of the historical iron-accumulating dgl and brz mutants in pea.

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The Pisum sativum (pea) mutants degenerate leaves (dgl) and bronze (brz) accumulate large amounts of iron in leaves. First described several decades ago, the two mutants have provided important insights into iron homeostasis in plants but the underlying mutations have remained unknown. Using exome sequencing we identified an in-frame deletion associated with dgl in a BRUTUS homolog. The deletion is absent from wild type and the original parent line. BRUTUS belongs to a small family of E3 ubiquitin ligases acting as negative regulators of iron uptake in plants. The brz mutation was previously mapped to chromosome 4, and superimposing this region to the pea genome sequence uncovered a mutation in OPT3, encoding an oligopeptide transporter with a plant-specific role in metal transport. The causal nature of the mutations was confirmed by additional genetic analyses. Identification of the mutated genes rationalizes many of the previously described phenotypes and provides new insights into shoot-to-root signaling of iron deficiency. Furthermore, the non-lethal mutations in these essential genes suggest new strategies for biofortification of crops with iron.