Root and cell hydraulic conductivity, apoplastic barriers and aquaporin gene expression in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) grown with low supply of potassium.Ann Bot. 2018 12 31; 122(7):1131-1141.AB
Background and Aims
Limited supply of mineral nutrients often reduces plant growth and transpirational water flow while increasing the ratio of water-absorbing root to water-losing shoot surface. This could potentially lead to an imbalance between water uptake (too much) and water loss (too little). The aim of the present study was to test whether, as a countermeasure, the hydraulic properties (hydraulic conductivity, Lp) of roots decrease at organ and cell level and whether any decreases in Lp are accompanied by decreases in the gene expression level of aquaporins (AQPs) or increases in apoplastic barriers to radial water movement.
Barley plants were grown hydroponically on complete nutrient solution, containing 2 mm K+ (100 %), or on low-K solution (0.05 mm K+; 2.5 %), and analysed when they were 15-18 d old. Transpiration, fresh weight, surface area, shoot water potential (ψ), K and Ca concentrations, root (exudation) and cortex cell Lp (cell pressure probe), root anatomy (cross-sections) and AQP gene expression (qPCR) were analysed.
The surface area ratio of root to shoot increased significantly in response to low K. This was accompanied by a small decrease in the rate of water loss per unit shoot surface area, but a large (~50 %) and significant decrease in Lp at root and cortex cell levels. Aquaporin gene expression in roots did not change significantly, due to some considerable batch-to-batch variation in expression response, though HvPIP2;5 expression decreased on average by almost 50 %. Apoplastic barriers in the endodermis did not increase in response to low K.
Barley plants that are exposed to low K adjust to an increased ratio of root (water uptake) to shoot (water loss) surface primarily through a decrease in root and cell Lp. Reduced gene expression of HvPIP2;5 may contribute to the decrease in Lp.