Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Exp Bot. 2006;57(5):1149-60. Epub 2006 Jan 31.

High-affinity potassium and sodium transport systems in plants.

Author information

  • 1Laboratorio de Microbiología, Departamento de Biotecnología, Escuela Técnica Superíor de Ingenieros Agrónomos, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, E-28040 Madrid, Spain.


All living cells have an absolute requirement for K+, which must be taken up from the external medium. In contrast to marine organisms, which live in a medium with an inexhaustible supply of K+, terrestrial life evolved in oligotrophic environments where the low supply of K+ limited the growth of colonizing plants. In these limiting conditions Na+ could substitute for K+ in some cellular functions, but in others it is toxic. In the vacuole, Na+ is not toxic and can undertake osmotic functions, reducing the total K+ requirements and improving growth when the lack of K+ is a limiting factor. Because of these physiological requirements, the terrestrial life of plants depends on high-affinity K+ uptake systems and benefits from high-affinity Na+ uptake systems. In plants, both systems have received extensive attention during recent years and a clear insight of their functions is emerging. Some plant HAK transporters mediate high-affinity K+ uptake in yeast, mimicking K+ uptake in roots, while other members of the same family may be K+ transporters in the tonoplast. In parallel with the HAK transporters, some HKT transporters mediate high-affinity Na+ uptake without cotransporting K+. HKT transporters have two functions: (i) to take up Na+ from the soil solution to reduce K+ requirements when K+ is a limiting factor, and (ii) to reduce Na+ accumulation in leaves by both removing Na+ from the xylem sap and loading Na+ into the phloem sap.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center