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J Exp Bot. 2011 Aug;62(12):4215-28. doi: 10.1093/jxb/err135. Epub 2011 May 9.

Root apoplastic barriers block Na+ transport to shoots in rice (Oryza sativa L.).

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  • 1National Centre for Biological Sciences, TIFR, Bangalore 560065, India.


Rice is an important crop that is very sensitive to salinity. However, some varieties differ greatly in this feature, making investigations of salinity tolerance mechanisms possible. The cultivar Pokkali is salinity tolerant and is known to have more extensive hydrophobic barriers in its roots than does IR20, a more sensitive cultivar. These barriers located in the root endodermis and exodermis prevent the direct entry of external fluid into the stele. However, it is known that in the case of rice, these barriers are bypassed by most of the Na(+) that enters the shoot. Exposing plants to a moderate stress of 100 mM NaCl resulted in deposition of additional hydrophobic aliphatic suberin in both cultivars. The present study demonstrated that Pokkali roots have a lower permeability to water (measured using a pressure chamber) than those of IR20. Conditioning plants with 100 mM NaCl effectively reduced Na(+) accumulation in the shoot and improved survival of the plants when they were subsequently subjected to a lethal stress of 200 mM NaCl. The Na(+) accumulated during the conditioning period was rapidly released when the plants were returned to the control medium. It has been suggested that the location of the bypass flow is around young lateral roots, the early development of which disrupts the continuity of the endodermal and exodermal Casparian bands. However, in the present study, the observed increase in lateral root densities during stress in both cultivars did not correlate with bypass flow. Overall the data suggest that in rice roots Na(+) bypass flow is reduced by the deposition of apoplastic barriers, leading to improved plant survival under salt stress.

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