Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 79, Issue 1–2, pp 35–46 | Cite as

Cloning, functional characterization and heterologous expression of TaLsi1, a wheat silicon transporter gene

  • Jonatan Montpetit
  • Julien Vivancos
  • Namiki Mitani-Ueno
  • Naoki Yamaji
  • Wilfried Rémus-Borel
  • François Belzile
  • Jian Feng Ma
  • Richard R. Bélanger


Silicon (Si) is known to be beneficial to plants, namely in alleviating biotic and abiotic stresses. The magnitude of such positive effects is associated with a plant’s natural ability to absorb Si. Many grasses can accumulate as much as 10% on a dry weight basis while most dicots, including Arabidopsis, will accumulate less than 0.1%. In this report, we describe the cloning and functional characterization of TaLsi1, a wheat Si transporter gene. In addition, we developed a heterologous system for the study of Si uptake in plants by introducing TaLsi1 and OsLsi1, its ortholog in rice, into Arabidopsis, a species with a very low innate Si uptake capacity. When expressed constitutively under the control of the CaMV 35S promoter, both TaLsi1 and OsLsi1 were expressed in cells of roots and shoots. Such constitutive expression of TaLsi1 or OsLsi1 resulted in a fourfold to fivefold increase in Si accumulation in transformed plants compared to WT. However, this Si absorption caused deleterious symptoms. When the wheat transporter was expressed under the control of a root-specific promoter (a boron transporter gene (AtNIP5;1) promoter), a similar increase in Si absorption was noted but the plants did not exhibit symptoms and grew normally. These results demonstrate that TaLsi1 is indeed a functional Si transporter as its expression in Arabidopsis leads to increased Si uptake, but that this expression must be confined to root cells for healthy plant development. The availability of this heterologous expression system will facilitate further studies into the mechanisms and benefits of Si uptake.


Lsi1 genes Aquaporins Silicon transport Wheat Transgenic Arabidopsis 



This work was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Canada Research Chairs Program to R.R. Bélanger and by Grant Genomics for Agricultural Innovation IPG-0006 from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (to J.F.M.) and Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research 21248009 and 22119002 on Innovative Areas from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (to J.F.M.).

Supplementary material

11103_2012_9892_MOESM1_ESM.doc (44 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 1: Graphical representation of a Kyte and Doolittle hydrophobicity profile generated from the predicted amino acid sequences of the rice and wheat silicon transporter genes. Transmembrane segments (TM) and NPA boxes are positioned on the graph. X-axis represents the numbering in amino acids (DOC 44 kb)
11103_2012_9892_MOESM2_ESM.eps (686 kb)
Supplementary Table 1: Primer sequences (EPS 686 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonatan Montpetit
    • 1
  • Julien Vivancos
    • 1
  • Namiki Mitani-Ueno
    • 3
  • Naoki Yamaji
    • 3
  • Wilfried Rémus-Borel
    • 1
  • François Belzile
    • 2
  • Jian Feng Ma
    • 3
  • Richard R. Bélanger
    • 1
  1. 1.Département de Phytologie, Faculté des Sciences de l’agriculture et de l’alimentation, Centre de Recherche en HorticultureUniversité LavalQuebecCanada
  2. 2.Département de Phytologie, Faculté des Sciences de l’agriculture et de l’alimentationUniversité LavalQuebecCanada
  3. 3.Institute of Plant Science and ResourcesOkayama UniversityKurashikiJapan

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