Chandan Kumar Gautam, first author of “IRONMAN Tunes Responses to Iron Deficiency in Concert with Environmental pH”
Current Position: PhD student (looking for postdoc position) at Academia Sinica and National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan
Education: B.Tech. Biotechnology, VIT University, Vellore, India
Non-scientific Interests: Running, Hiking, Cycling, Farming, Coin collection
Brief bio: My research at the Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology (Academia Sinica) under the supervision of Dr. Wolfgang Schmidt focuses on understanding the response of plants to poorly available iron (Fe) in the rhizosphere. Many plant species, including Arabidopsis, synthesise and secrete Fe-mobilizing coumarins in response to Fe-deficient conditions, in particular at elevated pH. Limited information is available regarding the regulation of coumarin biosynthesis and the response of Fe-regulated genes to the external pH of the substrate. During the course of my thesis project, I found that a recently identified regulator of Fe-uptake, a family of peptides designated IRONMAN (IMA), governs the biosynthesis and secretion of Fe-mobilizing coumarins. Overexpression of IMA confers tolerance to alkaline media through the secretion of catecholic and non-catecholic coumarins. Notably, in contrast to other Fe deficiency responses, the secretion of Fe-mobilizing coumarins appears to be strictly dependent on circumneutral or alkaline conditions, which regulates the expression of biosynthetic enzymes in a pH-dependent manner and in concert with the Fe status of the plants. Our research suggest that specific Fe acquisition processes are prioritized in response to the prevailing edaphic conditions to optimize the uptake of Fe from recalcitrant pools in the soil.