Silicon (Si) uptake has been extensively examined in rice ( Oryza sativa ), but it is poorly understood in other gramineous crops. We identified Low Silicon Rice 2 (Lsi2)-like Si efflux transporters from two important gramineous crops: maize ( Zea mays ) and barley ( Hordeum vulgare ). Both maize and barley Lsi2 expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes showed Si efflux transport activity. Furthermore, barley Lsi2 was able to recover Si uptake in a rice mutant defective in Si efflux. Maize and barley Lsi2 were only expressed in the roots. Expression of maize and barley Lsi2 was downregulated in response to exogenously applied Si. Moreover, there was a significant positive correlation between the ability of roots to absorb Si and the expression levels of Lsi2 in eight barley cultivars, suggesting that Lsi2 is a key Si transporter in barley. Immunostaining showed that maize and barley Lsi2 localized only at the endodermis, with no polarity. Protein gel blot analysis indicated that maize and barley Lsi2 localized on the plasma membrane. The unique features of maize and barley Si influx and efflux transporters, including their cell-type specificity and the lack of polarity of their localization in Lsi2, indicate that these crops have a different Si uptake system from that in rice.
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