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Plant Physiol. 2001 Apr;125(4):2059-67.

Expression of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa citrate synthase gene in tobacco is not associated with either enhanced citrate accumulation or efflux.

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  • 1Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Plant Industry, G.P.O. Box 1600, Canberra Australian Capital Territory 2601, Australia. e.delhaize@pi.csiro.au


Aluminum (Al) toxicity and poor phosphorus (P) availability are factors that limit plant growth on many agricultural soils. Previous work reported that expression of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa citrate synthase gene in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum; CSb lines) resulted in improved Al tolerance (J.M. de la Fuente, V. Ramírez-Rodríguez, J.L. Cabrera-Ponce, L. Herrera-Estrella [1997] Science 276: 1566-1568) and an enhanced ability to acquire P from alkaline soils (J. López-Bucio, O. Martínez de la Vega, A. Guevara-García, L. Herrera-Estrella [2000] Nat Biotechnol 18: 450-453). These effects were attributed to the P. aeruginosa citrate synthase increasing the biosynthesis and efflux of citrate from roots. To verify these findings we: (a) characterized citrate efflux from roots of wild-type tobacco; (b) generated tobacco lines expressing the citrate synthase gene from P. aeruginosa; and (c) analyzed selected CSb lines described above. Al stimulated citrate efflux from intact roots of wild-type tobacco and root apices were found to be responsible for most of the efflux. Despite generating transgenic tobacco lines that expressed the citrate synthase protein at up to a 100-fold greater level than the previously described CSb lines, these lines did not show increased accumulation of citrate in roots or increased Al-activated efflux of citrate from roots. Selected CSb lines, similarly, failed to show differences compared with controls in either citrate accumulation or efflux. We conclude that expression of the P. aeruginosa citrate synthase gene in plants is unlikely to be a robust and easily reproducible strategy for enhancing the Al tolerance and P-nutrition of crop and pasture species.

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