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Plant Cell Physiol. 2009 Jan;50(1):5-12. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcn110. Epub 2008 Jul 31.

Identification of maize silicon influx transporters.

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Research Institute for Bioresources, Okayama University, Kurashiki, Japan.


Maize (Zea mays L.) shows a high accumulation of silicon (Si), but transporters involved in the uptake and distribution have not been identified. In the present study, we isolated two genes (ZmLsi1 and ZmLsi6), which are homologous to rice influx Si transporter OsLsi1. Heterologous expression in Xenopus laevis oocytes showed that both ZmLsi1 and ZmLsi6 are permeable to silicic acid. ZmLsi1 was mainly expressed in the roots. By contrast, ZmLsi6 was expressed more in the leaf sheaths and blades. Different from OsLsi1, the expression level of both ZmLsi1 and ZmLsi6 was unaffected by Si supply. Immunostaining showed that ZmLsi1 was localized on the plasma membrane of the distal side of root epidermal and hypodermal cells in the seminal and crown roots, and also in cortex cells in lateral roots. In the shoots, ZmLsi6 was found in the xylem parenchyma cells that are adjacent to the vessels in both leaf sheaths and leaf blades. ZmLsi6 in the leaf sheaths and blades also exhibited polar localization on the side facing towards the vessel. Taken together, it can be concluded that ZmLsi1 is an influx transporter of Si, which is responsible for the transport of Si from the external solution to the root cells and that ZmLsi6 mainly functions as a Si transporter for xylem unloading.

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