Agriculture

Preventing iron chlorosis by exploiting the probiotic action of microorganisms

 

What is ferric chlorosis?

The clorosi ferrica è una fisiopatia da carenza di ferro che colpisce molte piante più o meno sensibili alla mancanza di questo microelemento. Il mancato apporto di ferro, anche a livelli minimi, determina un rallentamento del processo fotosintetico e respiratorio della pianta, con conseguenze negative sulle produzioni agricole, sia da un punto di vista quantitativo che qualitativo.

Biological role: iron is the constituent of the cytochrome protein molecule, intervenes in the biosynthesis of chlorophyll and chloroplasts, regulates vegetative growth mechanisms and participates in many photosynthetic and respiratory oxidation-reduction processes.

Symptoms: Deficiency is manifested by a typical internerval chlorosis (yellowing) starting with the youngest leaves of the plant. If the iron deficiency continues, the younger leaves tend to necrosis, while the older leaves also start to yellow with the following consequences: stunted vegetative growth, leaf fall and often even the death of the plant itself.

Causes: in most cases these are not to be found in the scarce presence of iron in the soil, but are essentially linked to the calcareous nature of the soil: it favours the presence of high concentrations of bicarbonate ions which cause an increase in the pH of the soil, making the iron insoluble and not usable by the plants. But the high pH of the soil is not the only factor responsible for ferric chlorosis: excess nitric fertilisation, soils rich in phosphorous, aluminium and heavy metals, low soil temperature and frequent soil tillage that favour the oxidation of the ferrous ion Fe2+ (plant-absorbable form) into the ferric ion Fe3+ (insoluble) can also aggravate the iron deficiency symptom picture.

Treating ferric chlorosis

La terapia prevede soprattutto l’utilizzo e la somministrazione di chelati di ferro. I chelati sono dei composti organo-metallici, con una struttura molecolare ad anello che riescono a catturare ed inglobare al loro interno lo ione ferroso (Fe2+) rendendolo disponibile alle piante, anche in condizioni di pH alcalino. Tali composti sono solubili in acqua e direttamente assorbibili sia dalle radici che dalle foglie.
Both synthetic and organic chelates exist, such as lignosulphonates or iron fertilisers chelated with amino acids and peptides.

clorosi ferrica

Like plants, certain naturally occurring micro-organisms secrete siderophores (Neilands 1995), water-soluble, low molecular weight pigments that are able to specifically bind trivalent iron (Fe3+) (Faraldo-Gòmez and Sanson, 2003) facilitating intracellular transport and iron assimilation in plants (Weller, 1988; Meldrum, 1999). Experiments with siderophore-producing microorganisms, especially those belonging to the genus Pseudomonas, Bacillus and with mycorrhizae, have shown a reduction in iron chlorosis compared to plants not treated with beneficial microorganisms (Bavaresco et al., 2002).

In conclusione, si può affermare che l’applicazione dei microrganismi migliora l’assorbimento del ferro da parte della pianta: l’utilizzo dei microrganismi, abbinato ad una buona concimazione organica e a fertilizzanti fogliari a base di ferro chelato con peptidi e/o amminoacidi, rappresenta un rimedio naturale per prevenire la clorosi ferrica.

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