Nitrogen foraging ability of plants relies on mobile shoot–root hormone signal

CEPD polypeptides are switched on inside shoots in response to nitrogen starvation inside roots. These polypeptides then descend into the roots, along with activate a nitrate transporter gene. Credit: Nagoya University

Nagoya University researchers discovered the molecular mechanisms underlying the shoot-to-root stage of nitrogen-demand signaling in plants. The team found of which genes encoding CEPD polypeptides are switched on inside shoots in response to nitrogen starvation inside roots. These polypeptides then descend into the roots, along with activate a nitrate transporter gene only if sufficient nitrate is usually available inside surrounding soil. These findings have implications for maximizing plant nutrient acquisition along with improving agricultural productivity.


Research at Nagoya University uncovers molecular shoot-to-root signal in nitrogen-starved plants, revealing role for mobile plant hormone.

Although not able to actively forage for their food, plants can nevertheless overcome problems relating to nutrient scarcity or varied distribution using a long-distance signaling mechanism. This kind of helps determine their competitive success along with productivity. For instance, nitrogen (usually inside form of nitrate) is usually essential for plant growth, nevertheless is usually often only present as patches inside soil. Nitrogen-starved roots express a mobile plant hormone (CEP) of which travels upward to the shoot along with eventually triggers compensatory nitrogen uptake by roots in more nitrogen-rich areas. This kind of CEP signal is usually received by a receptor protein inside leaves, nevertheless the molecules involved inside shoot-to-root response signal were unknown.

Nagoya University research has currently revealed of which phloem-specific polypeptides (chains of amino acids) are activated in response to the CEP signal, along with switch on the expression of a nitrate transporter gene only when nitrate is usually present inside soil immediately surrounding the root. The study was reported in Nature Plants.

To identify the gene(s) switched on when the CEP receptor is usually activated, researchers screened genetic candidates of which were highly upregulated following treatment of the product plant Arabidopsis with CEP.

Two genes matching This kind of description along with also regulated by the nitrogen status of the roots were discovered to encode polypeptides of which the team named CEPD1 along with CEPD2 for CEP downstream 1 along with 2, respectively.

The team showed of which these polypeptides accumulated inside roots, although the genes encoding them were expressed only inside shoots. This kind of indicated of which the polypeptides act as mobile descending shoot-to-root signals.

Plants were then grown with their roots separated into two parts, each receiving different levels of nitrogen, to explore the roles of CEPD1 along with CEPD2. “Roots exposed to nitrogen-rich medium showed increased expression of a nitrate transporter gene,” co-first author Yuri Ohkubo says. “However, mutant plants in which CEPD1 along with CEPD2 genes were switched off showed no such activation of the nitrate transporter.”

CEPD polypeptides were detected at similar quantities in both nitrogen-rich along with nitrogen-starved roots. However, they only switched on the nitrate transporter gene on the nitrogen-rich side of the plant. “The plant response to a lack of nitrogen therefore depends on the availability of nitrate inside soil surrounding its roots,” corresponding author Yoshikatsu Matsubayashi says. “The extent of This kind of nitrate availability ultimately determines if CEPD activates the nitrate transporter gene.”

Such a sophisticated signaling system ensures of which plants maximize the efficiency at which they obtain nutrients, along with could be exploited to improve fertilizer application along with enhance plant productivity.


Explore further:
Getting to the root of nutrient sensing

More information:
Yuri Ohkubo et al. Shoot-to-root mobile polypeptides involved in systemic regulation of nitrogen acquisition, Nature Plants (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nplants.2017.29

Journal reference:
Nature Plants

Provided by:
Nagoya University

Nitrogen foraging ability of plants relies on mobile shoot–root hormone signal

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