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Characterization of a Developmental Root Response Caused by External Ammonium Supply in Lotus japonicus

Alessandra Rogato, Enrica D'Apuzzo, Ani Barbulova, Selim Omrane, Aurora Parlati, Simona Carfagna, Alex Costa, Fiorella Lo Schiavo, Sergio Esposito and Maurizio Chiurazzi
Plant Physiology
Vol. 154, No. 2, 25,000th Article Commemorative Issue (October 2010), pp. 784-795
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20779832
Page Count: 12
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Characterization of a Developmental Root Response Caused by External Ammonium Supply in Lotus japonicus
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Abstract

Plants respond to changes of nutrient availability in the soil by modulating their root system developmental plan. This response is mediated by systemic changes of the nutritional status and/or by local perception of specific signals. The effect of nitrate on Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) root development represents a paradigm of these responses, and nitrate transporters are involved both in local and systemic control. Ammonium (NH₄⁺) represents an important nitrogen (N) source for plants, although toxicity symptoms are often associated with high NH₄⁺ concentration when this is present as the only N source. The reason for these effects is still controversial, and mechanisms associating ammonium supply and plant developmental programs are completely unknown. We determined in Lotus japonicus the range of ammonium concentration that significantly inhibits the elongation of primary and lateral roots without affecting the biomass of the shoot. The comparison of the growth phenotypes in different N conditions indicated the specificity of the ammonium effect, suggesting that this was not mediated by assimilatory negative feedback mechanisms. In the range of inhibitory NH₄⁺ conditions, only the LjAMT1;3 gene, among the members of the LjAMT1 family, showed a strong increased transcription that was reflected by an enlarged topology of expression. Remarkably, the short-root phenotype was phenocopied in transgenic lines by LjAMT1;3 overexpression independently of ammonium supply, and the same phenotype was not induced by another AMT1 member. These data describe a new plant mechanism to cope with environmental changes, giving preliminary information on putative actors involved in this specific ammonium-induced response.

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