Vacuolar Iron Stores Gated by NRAMP3 and NRAMP4 Are the Primary Source of Iron in Germinating Seeds.

During seed germination, iron (Fe) stored in vacuoles is exported by the redundant NRAMP3 and NRAMP4 transporter proteins. A double nramp3 nramp4 mutant is unable to mobilize Fe stores and does not develop in the absence of external Fe. We used RNA sequencing to compare gene expression in nramp3 nramp4 and wild type during germination and early seedling development. Even though sufficient Fe was supplied, the Fe-responsive transcription factors bHLH38, 39, 100, and 101 and their downstream targets FRO2 and IRT1 mediating Fe uptake were strongly upregulated in the nramp3 nramp4 mutant. Activation of the Fe deficiency response was confirmed by increased ferric chelate reductase activity in the mutant. At early stages, genes important for chloroplast redox control (FSD1 and SAPX), Fe homeostasis (FER1 and SUFB), and chlorophyll metabolism (HEMA1 and NYC1) were downregulated, indicating limited Fe availability in plastids. In contrast, expression of FRO3, encoding a ferric reductase involved in Fe import into the mitochondria, was maintained, and Fe-dependent enzymes in the mitochondria were unaffected in nramp3 nramp4 Together, these data show that a failure to mobilize Fe stores during germination triggered Fe deficiency responses and strongly affected plastids, but not mitochondria.