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J Exp Bot. 2009;60(3):881-92. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ern335. Epub 2009 Jan 30.

Sucrose transporter1 functions in phloem loading in maize leaves.

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Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University, 208 Mueller Lab, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


In most plants, sucrose is exported from source leaves to carbon-importing sink tissues to sustain their growth and metabolism. Apoplastic phloem-loading species require sucrose transporters (SUTs) to transport sucrose into the phloem. In many dicot plants, genetic and biochemical evidence has established that SUT1-type proteins function in phloem loading. However, the role of SUT1 in phloem loading in monocot plants is not clear since the rice (Oryza sativa) and sugarcane (Saccharum hybrid) SUT1 orthologues do not appear to function in phloem loading of sucrose. A SUT1 gene was previously cloned from maize (Zea mays) and shown to have expression and biochemical activity consistent with a hypothesized role in phloem loading. To determine the biological function of SUT1 in maize, a sut1 mutant was isolated and characterized. sut1 mutant plants hyperaccumulate carbohydrates in mature leaves and display leaf chlorosis with premature senescence. In addition, sut1 mutants have greatly reduced stature, altered biomass partitioning, delayed flowering, and stunted tassel development. Cold-girdling wild-type leaves to block phloem transport phenocopied the sut1 mutants, supporting a role for maize SUT1 in sucrose export. Furthermore, application of (14)C-sucrose to abraded sut1 mutant and wild-type leaves showed that sucrose export was greatly diminished in sut1 mutants compared with wild type. Collectively, these data demonstrate that SUT1 is crucial for efficient phloem loading of sucrose in maize leaves.

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