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Plant Cell Environ. 2003 Jun;26(6):821-833.

Alterations in Cd-induced gene expression under nitrogen deficiency in Hordeum vulgare.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biochemistry of Plants, University of Bielefeld - W5, D-33501 Bielefeld;Germany.


The inter-relation between nitrogen availability and cadmium toxicity was studied in roots of barley seedlings with emphasis on the analysis of expression of 10 selected genes relevant for growth in the presence of toxic Cd concentrations. The response to Cd exposure differed quantitatively or qualitatively for the 10 genes in dependence of the N supply. Transcripts of glutathione synthase, glutathione reductase, glutathione peroxidase and dehydroascorbate reductase were measured as parameters involved in antioxidant defence, metallothionein, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase and phytochelatin synthase (PCS) were analysed as genes related to heavy metal binding, and vacuolar ATPase subunits VHA-E and VHA-c and a NRAMP-transporter as genes being implicated in Cd transport. Reprogramming of the Cd response was most obvious for PCS and NRAMP whose transcript levels were unaltered and down-regulated, respectively, in the presence of Cd at adequate N, but strongly up-regulated upon Cd exposure under conditions of nitrogen deficiency. Different responses to Cd at varying N supply were also seen for the antioxidant genes. The results on gene expression are discussed in context with the changes in biochemical parameters, and underline the importance of evaluating the general growth conditions of a plant when discussing its specific response to a stressor such as Cd. The sequence of the nramp cDNA was filed at the EMBL/GenBank/DDBJ Databases under the accession number AJ514946.

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