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Plant J. 2011 May;66(3):541-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2011.04511.x. Epub 2011 Mar 7.

A soybean β-expansin gene GmEXPB2 intrinsically involved in root system architecture responses to abiotic stresses.

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Root Biology Centre, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China.


Root system architecture responds plastically to some abiotic stresses, including phosphorus (P), iron (Fe) and water deficiency, but its response mechanism is still unclear. We cloned and characterized a vegetative β-expansin gene, GmEXPB2, from a Pi starvation-induced soybean cDNA library. Transient expression of 35S::GmEXPB2-GFP in onion epidermal cells verified that GmEXPB2 is a secretory protein located on the cell wall. GmEXPB2 was found to be primarily expressed in roots, and was highly induced by Pi starvation, and the induction pattern was confirmed by GUS staining in transgenic soybean hairy roots. Results from intact soybean composite plants either over-expressing GmEXPB2 or containing knockdown constructs, showed that GmEXPB2 is involved in hairy root elongation, and subsequently affects plant growth and P uptake, especially at low P levels. The results from a heterogeneous transformation system indicated that over-expressing GmEXPB2 in Arabidopsis increased root cell division and elongation, and enhanced plant growth and P uptake at both low and high P levels. Furthermore, we found that, in addition to Pi starvation, GmEXPB2 was also induced by Fe and mild water deficiencies. Taken together, our results suggest that GmEXPB2 is a critical root β-expansin gene that is intrinsically involved in root system architecture responses to some abiotic stresses, including P, Fe and water deficiency. In the case of Pi starvation responses, GmEXPB2 may enhance both P efficiency and P responsiveness by regulating adaptive changes of the root system architecture. This finding has great agricultural potential for improving crop P uptake on both low-P and P-fertilized soils.

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