Jump to Main Content
Tissue and nitrogen-linked expression profiles of ammonium and nitrate transporters in maize
- Dechorgnat, Julie, Francis, Karen L., Dhugga, Kanwarpal S., Rafalski, J. Antony, Tyerman, Stephen D., Kaiser, Brent N.
- BMC plant biology 2019 v.19 no.1 pp. 206
- Arabidopsis thaliana, Zea mays, ammonium, barley, cell physiology, corn, crops, developmental stages, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, hulls, leaves, messenger RNA, microbial activity, nitrates, nitrogen, roots, soil nutrients, soil types, starvation, transporters
- BACKGROUND: In order to grow, plants rely on soil nutrients which can vary both spatially and temporally depending on the environment, the soil type or the microbial activity. An essential nutrient is nitrogen, which is mainly accessible as nitrate and ammonium. Many studies have investigated transport genes for these ions in Arabidopsis thaliana and recently in crop species, including Maize, Rice and Barley. However, in most crop species, an understanding of the participants in nitrate and ammonium transport across the soil plant continuum remains undefined. RESULTS: We have mapped a non-exhaustive set of putative nitrate and ammonium transporters in maize. The selected transporters were defined based on previous studies comparing nitrate transport pathways conserved between Arabidopsis and Zea mays (Plett D et. al, PLOS ONE 5:e15289, 2010). We also selected genes from published studies (Gu R et. al, Plant and Cell Physiology, 54:1515-1524, 2013, Garnett T et. al, New Phytol 198:82-94, 2013, Garnett T et. al, Frontiers in Plant Sci 6, 2015, Dechorgnat J et. al, Front Plant Sci 9:531, 2018). To analyse these genes, the plants were grown in a semi-hydroponic system to carefully control nitrogen delivery and then harvested at both vegetative and reproductive stages. The expression patterns of 26 putative nitrogen transporters were then tested. Six putative genes were found not expressed in our conditions. Transcripts of 20 other genes were detected at both the vegetative and reproductive stages of maize development. We observed the expression of nitrogen transporters in all organs tested: roots, young leaves, old leaves, silks, cobs, tassels and husk leaves. We also followed the gene expression response to nitrogen starvation and resupply and uncovered mainly three expression patterns: (i) genes unresponsiveness to nitrogen supply; (ii) genes showing an increase of expression after nitrogen starvation; (iii) genes showing a decrease of expression after nitrogen starvation. CONCLUSIONS: These data allowed the mapping of putative nitrogen transporters in maize at both the vegetative and reproductive stages of development. No growth-dependent expression was seen in our conditions. We found that nitrogen transporter genes were expressed in all the organs tested and in many cases were regulated by the availability of nitrogen supplied to the plant. The gene expression patterns in relation to organ specificity and nitrogen availability denote a speciality of nitrate and ammonium transporter genes and their probable function depending on the plant organ and the environment.