Rapid changes in root hydraulic conductivity and aquaporin expression in rice (Oryza sativa L.) in response to shoot removal – xylem tension as a possible signal

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Background and Aims It is not clear how plants adjust the rate of root water uptake to that of shoot water loss. The aim of this study on rice was to test the idea that root aquaporins (AQPs) and xylem tension play a role in this adjustment.

Methods Three-week-old rice (Oryza sativa L.) plants, which were grown hydroponically, had their entire shoot system removed, and root hydraulic conductivity (exudation analyses) and gene expression (quantitative real-time PCR) of root plasma membrane intrinsic aquaporin proteins (PIPs) was followed within 60 min after shoot excision.

Key Results All three PIP1 genes (OsPIP1;1, OsPIP1;2 and OsPIP1;3) and three of the six PIP2 genes tested (OsPIP2;1, OsPIP2;4 and OsPIP2;5) showed a rapid (5 min) and lasting (60 min) decrease in gene expression. Expression decreased by up to 85 % within 60 min. The other three PIP2 genes tested (OsPIP2;2, OsPIP2;3 and OsPIP2;6) showed a varied response, with expression decreasing either only initially (5 min) or after 60 min, or not changing at all. In a follow-up experiment, plants had their shoot system removed and the detached root system immediately connected to a vacuum pump through which some tension (80 kPa) was applied. This application of tension prevented any significant decrease in PIP expression.

Conclusions Shoot removal leads to a rapid decrease in expression of all PIP1s and some PIP2s in roots of rice. Xylem tension plays some role in this process.

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