Plant potassium content modifies the effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis on root hydraulic properties in maize plants
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- El-Mesbahi, M.N., Azcón, R., Ruiz-Lozano, J.M. et al. Mycorrhiza (2012) 22: 555. doi:10.1007/s00572-012-0433-3
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It is well known that the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis helps the host plant to overcome several abiotic stresses including drought. One of the mechanisms for this drought tolerance enhancement is the higher water uptake capacity of the mycorrhizal plants. However, the effects of the AM symbiosis on processes regulating root hydraulic properties of the host plant, such as root hydraulic conductivity and plasma membrane aquaporin gene expression, and protein abundance, are not well defined. Since it is known that K+ status is modified by AM and that it regulates root hydraulic properties, it has been tested how plant K+ status could modify the effects of the symbiosis on root hydraulic conductivity and plasma membrane aquaporin gene expression and protein abundance, using maize (Zea mays L.) plants and Glomus intraradices as a model. It was observed that the supply of extra K+ increased root hydraulic conductivity only in AM plants. Also, the different pattern of plasma membrane aquaporin gene expression and protein abundance between AM and non-AM plants changed with the application of extra K+. Thus, plant K+ status could be one of the causes of the different observed effects of the AM symbiosis on root hydraulic properties. The present study also highlights the critical importance of AM fungal aquaporins in regulating root hydraulic properties of the host plant.