Although the discovery of aquaporins in plants has resulted in a paradigm shift in the understanding of plant water relations, the relationship between aquaporins and plant responses to drought still remains elusive. Moreover, the contribution of aquaporin genes to the enhanced tolerance to drought in arbuscular mycorrhisal (AM) plants has never been investigated. Therefore, we studied, at a molecular level, whether the expression of aquaporin-encoding genes in roots is altered by the AM symbiosis as a mechanism to enhance host plant tolerance to water deficit. In this study, genes encoding plasma membrane aquaporins (PIPs) from soybean and lettuce were cloned and their expression pattern studied in AM and nonAM plants cultivated under well-watered or drought stressed conditions. Results showed that AM plants responded to drought stress by down-regulating the expression of the PIP genes studied and anticipating its down-regulation as compared to nonAM plants. The possible physiological implications of this down-regulation of PIP genes as a mechanism to decrease membrane water permeability and to allow cellular water conservation is further discussed.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 19, 2005
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