Franka Siefritz a , Melvin T. Tyree b , Claudio Lovisolo c , Andrea Schubert d and Ralf Kaldenhoff 1 , a a Department of Plant Physiology and Biophysics, University of Würzburg, D-97082 Würzburg, Germany b Aiken Forestry Sciences Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Burlington, Vermont 05402 c Department of Arboriculture and Pomology, University of Turin, I-10095 Grugliasco, Italy d Grapevine Breeding and Biology Centre, Italian National Research Council, I-10095 Grugliasco, Italy ↵ 1 To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail email@example.com ; fax 49-9318886158 Abstract The molecular functions of several aquaporins are well characterized (e.g., by analysis of aquaporin-expressing Xenopus oocytes). However, their significance in the physiology of water transport in multicellular organisms remains uncertain. The tobacco plasma membrane aquaporin NtAQP1 was used to elucidate this issue. By comparing antisense plants that were inhibited in NtAQP1 expression with control plants, we found evidence for NtAQP1 function in cellular and whole-plant water relations. The consequences of a decrease in cellular water permeability were determined by measurement of transpiration rate and stem and leaf water potential as well as growth experiments under extreme soil water depletion. Plants impaired in NtAQP1 expression showed reduced root hydraulic conductivity and lower water stress resistance. In conclusion, our results emphasize the importance of symplastic aquaporin-mediated water transport in whole-plant water relations.
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