Silencing of ABCC13 transporter in wheat reveals its involvement in grain development, phytic acid accumulation and lateral root formation

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Low phytic acid is a trait desired in cereal crops and can be achieved by manipulating the genes involved either in its biosynthesis or its transport in the vacuoles. Previously, we have demonstrated that the wheat TaABCC13 protein is a functional transporter, primarily involved in heavy metal tolerance, and a probable candidate gene to achieve low phytate wheat. In the current study, RNA silencing was used to knockdown the expression of TaABCC13 in order to evaluate its functional importance in wheat. Transgenic plants with significantly reduced TaABCC13 transcripts in either seeds or roots were selected for further studies. Homozygous RNAi lines K1B4 and K4G7 exhibited 34–22% reduction of the phytic acid content in the mature grains (T4 seeds). These transgenic lines were defective for spike development, as characterized by reduced grain filling and numbers of spikelets. The seeds of transgenic wheat had delayed germination, but the viability of the seedlings was unaffected. Interestingly, early emergence of lateral roots was observed in TaABCC13-silenced lines as compared to non-transgenic lines. In addition, these lines also had defects in metal uptake and development of lateral roots in the presence of cadmium stress. Our results suggest roles of TaABCC13 in lateral root initiation and enhanced sensitivity towards heavy metals. Taken together, these data demonstrate that wheat ABCC13 is functionally important for grain development and plays an important role during detoxification of heavy metals.

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