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Plant Cell. 2009 Sep;21(9):2750-61. doi: 10.1105/tpc.109.067603. Epub 2009 Sep 4.

The Arabidopsis nitrate transporter NRT1.7, expressed in phloem, is responsible for source-to-sink remobilization of nitrate.

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Graduate Institute of Life Sciences, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan.


Several quantitative trait locus analyses have suggested that grain yield and nitrogen use efficiency are well correlated with nitrate storage capacity and efficient remobilization. This study of the Arabidopsis thaliana nitrate transporter NRT1.7 provides new insights into nitrate remobilization. Immunoblots, quantitative RT-PCR, beta-glucuronidase reporter analysis, and immunolocalization indicated that NRT1.7 is expressed in the phloem of the leaf minor vein and that its expression levels increase coincidentally with the source strength of the leaf. In nrt1.7 mutants, more nitrate was present in the older leaves, less (15)NO(3)(-) spotted on old leaves was remobilized into N-demanding tissues, and less nitrate was detected in the phloem exudates of old leaves. These data indicate that NRT1.7 is responsible for phloem loading of nitrate in the source leaf to allow nitrate transport out of older leaves and into younger leaves. Interestingly, nrt1.7 mutants showed growth retardation when external nitrogen was depleted. We conclude that (1) nitrate itself, in addition to organic forms of nitrogen, is remobilized, (2) nitrate remobilization is important to sustain vigorous growth during nitrogen deficiency, and (3) source-to-sink remobilization of nitrate is mediated by phloem.

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