Salt stress is known to reduce root hydraulic conductivity and growth. To examine a concomitant regulation of aquaporins, the expression of the maize MIP gene family in response to NaCl was analysed by DNA array hybridization. Plants responded differentially to 100 versus 200 mM NaCl treatments. Leaf water content was reduced rapidly and persistently after the application of 200 mM NaCl in contrast to 100 mM NaCl. Endogenous ABA strongly accumulated in roots after 2 h; it remained at a highly elevated level for 48 h after the addition of 200 mM NaCl, but rapidly declined in plants treated with 100 mM NaCl, indicating an early recovery from water deficit. Interestingly, 2 h after the addition of 100 mM NaCl, when maize regained the osmotic potential allowing water uptake, three highly expressed, specific isoforms ZmPIP1;1, ZmPIP1;5, and ZmPIP2;4 were transiently induced. They were preferentially transcribed in the outer root tissue suggesting a role in cellular water transport. None of the ZmTIP genes was altered. By contrast, after the addition of 200 mM NaCl these responses were missing. Instead, multiple ZmPIP and ZmTIP genes were repressed by 200 mM NaCl after 24 h. After 48 h, deregulations were overridden in both cases indicating homeostasis. ABA (1 muM) exogenously applied to the roots transiently induced ZmPIP2;4 similar to 100 mM NaCl as well as ZmPIP1;2. Thus, the early induction of ZmPIP2;4 by NaCl may be mediated by ABA. Previously, an increase in root hydraulic conductivity had been observed upon ABA application. By contrast, 100 muM ABA led to a complete, possibly non-specific repression of all detected ZmPIP and ZmTIP genes after 24 h.
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