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Plant Physiol. 2004 Oct;136(2):3376-82. Epub 2004 Oct 1.

Boron tolerance in barley is mediated by efflux of boron from the roots.

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School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia.


Many plants are known to reduce the toxic effects of high soil boron (B) by reducing uptake of B, but no mechanism for limiting uptake has previously been identified. The B-tolerant cultivar of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), Sahara, was shown to be able to maintain root B concentrations up to 50% lower than in the B-sensitive cultivar, Schooner. This translated into xylem concentrations that were approximately 64% lower and leaf concentrations 73% lower in the tolerant cultivar. In both cultivars, B accumulation was rapid and reached a steady-state concentration in roots within 3 h. In Schooner, this concentration was similar to the external medium, whereas in Sahara, the root concentration was maintained at a lower concentration. For this to occur, B must be actively extruded from the root in Sahara, and this is presumed to be the basis for B tolerance in barley. The extrusion mechanism was inhibited by sodium azide but not by treatment at low temperature. Several anion channel inhibitors were also effective in limiting extrusion, but it was not clear whether they acted directly or via metabolic inhibition. The ability of Sahara to maintain lower root B concentrations was constitutive and occurred across a wide range of B concentrations. This ability was lost at high pH, and both Schooner and Sahara then had similar root B concentrations. A predictive model that is consistent with the empirical results and explains the tolerance mechanism based on the presence of a borate anion efflux transporter in Sahara is presented.

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