, Volume 249, Issue 4, pp 1037–1051 | Cite as

Plasma-membrane electrical responses to salt and osmotic gradients contradict radiotracer kinetics, and reveal Na+-transport dynamics in rice (Oryza sativa L.)

  • Ahmed M. Hamam
  • Devrim Coskun
  • Dev T. Britto
  • Darren Plett
  • Herbert J. KronzuckerEmail author
Original Article


Main conclusion

A systematic analysis of NaCl-dependent, plasma-membrane depolarization (∆∆Ψ) in rice roots calls into question the current leading model of rapid membrane cycling of Na+ under salt stress.

To investigate the character and mechanisms of Na+ influx into roots, Na+-dependent changes in plasma-membrane electrical potentials (∆∆Ψ) were measured in root cells of intact rice (Oryza sativa L., cv. Pokkali) seedlings. As external sodium concentrations ([Na+]ext) were increased in a step gradient from 0 to 100 mM, membrane potentials depolarized in a saturable manner, fitting a Michaelis–Menten model and contradicting the linear (non-saturating) models developed from radiotracer studies. Clear differences in saturation patterns were found between plants grown under low- and high-nutrient (LN and HN) conditions, with LN plants showing greater depolarization and higher affinity for Na+ (i.e., higher Vmax and lower Km) than HN plants. In addition, counterion effects on ∆∆Ψ were pronounced in LN plants (with ∆∆Ψ decreasing in the order: Cl > SO42− > HPO 4 2- ), but not seen in HN plants. When effects of osmotic strength, Cl influx, K+ efflux, and H+-ATPase activity on ∆∆Ψ were accounted for, resultant Km and Vmax values suggested that a single, dominant Na+-transport mechanism was operating under each nutritional condition, with Km values of 1.2 and 16 mM for LN and HN plants, respectively. Comparing saturating patterns of depolarization to linear patterns of 24Na+ radiotracer influx leads to the conclusion that electrophysiological and tracer methods do not report the same phenomena and that the current model of rapid transmembrane sodium cycling may require revision.


Depolarization Efflux Influx Ionic Osmotic Membrane potential Radiotracer Rapid transmembrane sodium cycling (RTSC) Rice Roots Salinity stress Sodium transport 



Change in plasma-membrane electrical potential


High nutrient


Low nutrient


N-Methyl-d-glucamine chloride


Non-selective cation channel


Rapid transmembrane sodium cycling



We thank M. Butler and R. Pasuta at McMaster Nuclear Reactor (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) for supplying 24Na+ and 42K+. We also thank Dr. D. Dubins at the University of Toronto Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy for access to their osmometer. This work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Ontario Graduate Student Scholarship (OGS), and the University of Toronto.

Supplementary material

425_2018_3059_MOESM1_ESM.tif (308 kb)
Suppl. Fig. S1 Sodium-dependent membrane depolarization (∆Ψ) in root cortical and epidermal cells of intact rice seedings, cv. Pokkali. Plants were grown as in Fig. 1 under HN conditions, then subjected to stepwise increases in external concentration of NaCl. With each increase in NaCl concentration, the ∆ψ was allowed to saturate before the next stepwise increase in concentration was washed in (TIFF 307 kb)
425_2018_3059_MOESM2_ESM.tif (1.1 mb)
Suppl. Fig. S2 a Sodium-dependent membrane depolarization (∆∆Ψ) in root cortical and epidermal cells of intact rice seedlings, cv. IR29. Plants were grown as in Fig. 1, then subjected to stepwise increases in external concentration of NaCl; error bars generated via error propagation. Error bars represent ± SE. b Sodium-dependent membrane depolarization (∆ψ) in root cortical and epidermal cells of intact rice seedings, cv. IR29. Plants were grown as in Fig. 1 under HN conditions, then subjected to a stepwise increases in external concentration of NaCl. With each increase in NaCl concentration, the ∆ψ was allowed to saturate before the next stepwise increase in concentration was washed in (TIFF 1076 kb)
425_2018_3059_MOESM3_ESM.docx (31 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 30 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ahmed M. Hamam
    • 1
  • Devrim Coskun
    • 2
  • Dev T. Britto
    • 1
  • Darren Plett
    • 3
  • Herbert J. Kronzucker
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences and Canadian Centre for World Hunger Research (CCWHR)University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Département de Phytologie, Faculté des Sciences de l’Agriculture et de l’Alimentation (FSAA)Université LavalQuébecCanada
  3. 3.School of Agriculture and Food, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural SciencesThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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