Silicon (Si) is known to be beneficial to plants, namely in alleviating biotic and abiotic stresses. The magnitude of such positive effects is associated with a plant’s natural ability to absorb Si. Many grasses can accumulate as much as 10% on a dry weight basis while most dicots, including Arabidopsis, will accumulate less than 0.1%. In this report, we describe the cloning and functional characterization of TaLsi1, a wheat Si transporter gene. In addition, we developed a heterologous system for the study of Si uptake in plants by introducing TaLsi1 and OsLsi1, its ortholog in rice, into Arabidopsis, a species with a very low innate Si uptake capacity. When expressed constitutively under the control of the CaMV 35S promoter, both TaLsi1 and OsLsi1 were expressed in cells of roots and shoots. Such constitutive expression of TaLsi1 or OsLsi1 resulted in a fourfold to fivefold increase in Si accumulation in transformed plants compared to WT. However, this Si absorption caused deleterious symptoms. When the wheat transporter was expressed under the control of a root-specific promoter (a boron transporter gene (AtNIP5;1) promoter), a similar increase in Si absorption was noted but the plants did not exhibit symptoms and grew normally. These results demonstrate that TaLsi1 is indeed a functional Si transporter as its expression in Arabidopsis leads to increased Si uptake, but that this expression must be confined to root cells for healthy plant development. The availability of this heterologous expression system will facilitate further studies into the mechanisms and benefits of Si uptake.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 14, 2012
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