• iron deficiency;
  • maize;
  • thiol content;
  • xylem sap;
  • zinc excess


Iron deficiency stress causes a severe reduction in plant growth. Although Fe deficiency causes an imbalance in divalent heavy metal nutrients, the mechanisms underlying the growth reduction caused by this imbalance remain unclear. We investigated Zn uptake and accumulation in maize under Fe-deficient conditions. Under Fe-deficient conditions, Zn uptake was 15-fold higher and Zn accumulation was 16-fold higher than that under normal nutrient conditions. The Zn content of maize leaves under Fe-deficient conditions was >0.4 mg g−1 dry weight, which was higher than the content of plants grown in a nutrient solution containing 50 µM ZnCl2. Plant growth under conditions of both Fe and Zn deficiency was significantly higher than that under only Fe-deficient conditions. Moreover, Fe deficiency increased the thiol content of the plant. These results indicate that Fe deficiency causes excess uptake and accumulation of Zn, and that the stress resulting from the Zn overload accelerates growth reduction in maize.