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Plant Physiol. 1999 Apr;119(4):1349-60.

Proline accumulation in maize (Zea mays L.) primary roots at low water potentials. II. Metabolic source of increased proline deposition in the elongation zone

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  • 1Department of Agronomy, Plant Science Unit, 1-87 Agriculture Building, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA.


The proline (Pro) concentration increases greatly in the growing region of maize (Zea mays L.) primary roots at low water potentials (psiw), largely as a result of an increased net rate of Pro deposition. Labeled glutamate (Glu), ornithine (Orn), or Pro was supplied specifically to the root tip of intact seedlings in solution culture at high and low psiw to assess the relative importance of Pro synthesis, catabolism, utilization, and transport in root-tip Pro deposition. Labeling with [3H]Glu indicated that Pro synthesis from Glu did not increase substantially at low psiw and accounted for only a small fraction of the Pro deposition. Labeling with [14C]Orn showed that Pro synthesis from Orn also could not be a substantial contributor to Pro deposition. Labeling with [3H]Pro indicated that neither Pro catabolism nor utilization in the root tip was decreased at low psiw. Pro catabolism occurred at least as rapidly as Pro synthesis from Glu. There was, however, an increase in Pro uptake at low psiw, which suggests increased Pro transport. Taken together, the data indicate that increased transport of Pro to the root tip serves as the source of low-psiw-induced Pro accumulation. The possible significance of Pro catabolism in sustaining root growth at low psiw is also discussed.

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