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PLoS One. 2013 Nov 19;8(11):e79052. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079052. eCollection 2013.

Genome-wide identification and expression analysis of aquaporins in tomato.

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Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University, Chikusa, Nagoya, Japan.


The family of aquaporins, also called water channels or major intrinsic proteins, is characterized by six transmembrane domains that together facilitate the transport of water and a variety of low molecular weight solutes. They are found in all domains of life, but show their highest diversity in plants. Numerous studies identified aquaporins as important targets for improving plant performance under drought stress. The phylogeny of aquaporins is well established based on model species like Arabidopsis thaliana, which can be used as a template to investigate aquaporins in other species. In this study we comprehensively identified aquaporin encoding genes in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), which is an important vegetable crop and also serves as a model for fleshy fruit development. We found 47 aquaporin genes in the tomato genome and analyzed their structural features. Based on a phylogenetic analysis of the deduced amino acid sequences the aquaporin genes were assigned to five subfamilies (PIPs, TIPs, NIPs, SIPs and XIPs) and their substrate specificity was assessed on the basis of key amino acid residues. As ESTs were available for 32 genes, expression of these genes was analyzed in 13 different tissues and developmental stages of tomato. We detected tissue-specific and development-specific expression of tomato aquaporin genes, which is a first step towards revealing the contribution of aquaporins to water and solute transport in leaves and during fruit development.

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