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Ammonium Triggers Lateral Root Branching in Arabidopsis in an AMMONIUM TRANSPORTER1;3-Dependent Manner

Lima, Joni E., Kojima, Soichi, Takahashi, Hideki, von Wirén, Nicolaus
The plant cell 2010 v.22 no.11 pp. 3621-3633
Arabidopsis thaliana, branching, mutants, nutrient availability, plant nutrition, root growth, roots, transporters
Root development is strongly affected by the plant's nutritional status and the external availability of nutrients. Employing split-root systems, we show here that local ammonium supply to Arabidopsis thaliana plants increases lateral root initiation and higher-order lateral root branching, whereas the elongation of lateral roots is stimulated mainly by nitrate. Ammonium-stimulated lateral root number or density decreased after ammonium or Gln supply to a separate root fraction and did not correlate with cumulative uptake of ¹⁵N-labeled ammonium, suggesting that lateral root branching was not purely due to a nutritional effect but most likely is a response to a sensing event. Ammonium-induced lateral root branching was almost absent in a quadruple AMMONIUM TRANSPORTER (qko, the amt1;1 amt1;2 amt1;3 amt2;1 mutant) insertion line and significantly lower in the amt1;3-1 mutant than in the wild type. Reconstitution of AMT1;3 expression in the amt1;3-1 or in the qko background restored higher-order lateral root development. By contrast, AMT1;1, which shares similar transport properties with AMT1;3, did not confer significant higher-order lateral root proliferation. These results show that ammonium is complementary to nitrate in shaping lateral root development and that stimulation of lateral root branching by ammonium occurs in an AMT1;3-dependent manner.