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Planta. 2007 Aug;226(3):729-40. Epub 2007 Apr 19.

Overexpression of a Panax ginseng tonoplast aquaporin alters salt tolerance, drought tolerance and cold acclimation ability in transgenic Arabidopsis plants.

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  • 1Department of Horticulture, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.


Water movement across cellular membranes is regulated largely by a family of water channel proteins called aquaporins (AQPs). Since several abiotic stresses such as, drought, salinity and freezing, manifest themselves via altering water status of plant cells and are linked by the fact that they all result in cellular dehydration, we overexpressed an AQP (tonoplast intrinsic protein) from Panax ginseng, PgTIP1, in transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants to test its role in plant's response to drought, salinity and cold acclimation (induced freezing tolerance). Under favorable conditions, PgTIP1 overexpression significantly increased plant growth as determined by the biomass production, and leaf and root morphology. PgTIP1 overexpression had beneficial effect on salt-stress tolerance as indicated by superior growth status and seed germination of transgenic plants under salt stress; shoots of salt-stressed transgenic plants also accumulated greater amounts of Na(+) compared to wild-type plants. Whereas PgTIP1 overexpression diminished the water-deficit tolerance of plants grown in shallow (10 cm deep) pots, the transgenic plants were significantly more tolerant to water stress when grown in 45 cm deep pots. The rationale for this contrasting response, apparently, comes from the differences in the root morphology and leaf water channel activity (speed of dehydration/rehydration) between the transgenic and wild-type plants. Plants overexpressed with PgTIP1 exhibited lower (relative to wild-type control) cold acclimation ability; however, this response was independent of cold-regulated gene expression. Our results demonstrate a significant function of PgTIP1 in growth and development of plant cells, and suggest that the water movement across tonoplast (via AQP) represents a rate-limiting factor for plant vigor under favorable growth conditions and also significantly affect responses of plant to drought, salt and cold stresses.

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