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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jul 23;93(15):8139-44.

Preferential expression of an ammonium transporter and of two putative nitrate transporters in root hairs of tomato.

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Institut für Genbiologische Forschung, Berlin, Germany.


Root hairs as specialized epidermal cells represent part of the outermost interface between a plant and its soil environment. They make up to 70% of the root surface and, therefore, are likely to contribute significantly to nutrient uptake. To study uptake systems for mineral nitrogen, three genes homologous to Arabidopsis nitrate and ammonium transporters (AtNrt1 and AtAmt1) were isolated from a root hair-specific tomato cDNA library. Accumulation of LeNrt1-1, LeNrt1-2, and LeAmt1 transcripts was root-specific, with no detectable transcripts in stems or leaves. Expression was root cell type-specific and regulated by nitrogen availability. LeNrt1-2 mRNA accumulation was restricted to root hairs that had been exposed to nitrate. In contrast, LeNrt1-1 transcripts were detected in root hairs as well as other root tissues under all nitrogen treatments applied. Analogous to LeNrt1-1, the gene LeAmt1 was expressed under all nitrogen conditions tested, and root hair-specific mRNA accumulation was highest following exposure to ammonium. Expression of LeAMT1 in an ammonium uptake-deficient yeast strain restored growth on low ammonium medium, confirming its involvement in ammonium transport. Root hair specificity and characteristics of substrate regulation suggest an important role of the three genes in uptake of mineral nitrogen.

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