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Summary

The interaction between pathogenic microbes and their hosts is determined by survival strategies on both sides. As a result of its redox properties, iron is vital for the growth and proliferation of nearly all organisms, including pathogenic bacteria. In bacteria–vertebrate interactions, competition for this essential metal is critical for the outcome of the infection. The role of iron in the virulence of plant pathogenic bacteria has only been explored in a few pathosystems in the past. However, in the last 5 years, intensive research has provided new insights into the mechanisms of iron homeostasis in phytopathogenic bacteria that are involved in virulence. This review, which includes important plant pathosystems, discusses the recent advances in the understanding of iron transport and homeostasis during plant pathogenesis. By summarizing the recent progress, we wish to provide an updated view clarifying the various roles played by this metal in the virulence of bacterial phytopathogens as a nutritional and regulatory element. The complex intertwining of iron metabolism and oxidative stress during infection is emphasized.