AMT1;1 transgenic rice plants with enhanced NH4 permeability show superior growth and higher yield under optimal and suboptimal NH4 conditions

Kosala Ranathunge, Ashraf El-Kereamy, Satinder Gidda, Yong Mei Bi, Steven J. Rothstein

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The major source of nitrogen for rice (Oryza sativa L.) is ammonium (NH4). The NH4 uptake of roots is mainly governed by membrane transporters, with OsAMT1;1 being a prominent member of the OsAMT1 gene family that is known to be involved in NH4 transport in rice plants. However, little is known about its involvement in NH4 uptake in rice roots and subsequent effects on NH4 assimilation. This study shows that OsAMT1;1 is a constitutively expressed, nitrogen-responsive gene, and its protein product is localized in the plasma membrane. Its expression level is under the control of circadian rhythm. Transgenic rice lines (L-2 and L-3) overexpressing the OsAMT1;1 gene had the same root structure as the wild type (WT). However, they had 2-fold greater NH4 permeability than the WT, whereas OsAMT1;1 gene expression was 20-fold higher than in the WT. Analogous to the expression, transgenic lines had a higher NH4 content in the shoots and roots than the WT. Direct NH4 fluxes in the xylem showed that the transgenic lines had significantly greater uptake rates than the WT. Higher NH4 contents also promoted higher expression levels of genes in the nitrogen assimilation pathway, resulting in greater nitrogen assimilates, chlorophyll, starch, sugars, and grain yield in transgenic lines than in the WT under suboptimal and optimal nitrogen conditions. OsAMT1;1 also enhanced overall plant growth, especially under suboptimal NH4 levels. These results suggest that OsAMT1;1 has the potential for improving nitrogen use efficiency, plant growth, and grain yield under both suboptimal and optimal nitrogen fertilizer conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)965-979
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

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