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New Insights into the Regulation of Aquaporins by the Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis in Maize Plants Under Drought Stress and Possible Implications for Plant Performance

April 2014 , Volume 27 , Number  4
Pages  349 - 363

Gloria Bárzana,1 Ricardo Aroca,1 Gerd Patrick Bienert,2 François Chaumont,2 and Juan Manuel Ruiz-Lozano1

1Departamento de Microbiología del Suelo y Sistemas Simbióticos, Estación Experimental del Zaidín (CSIC), Profesor Albareda number 1, 18008 Granada, Spain; 2Institut des Sciences de la Vie, Université Catholique de Louvain, Croix du Sud 4-L7.07.14. B-1348, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

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Accepted 23 November 2013.

The relationship between modulation by arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) of aquaporin expression in the host plant and changes in root hydraulic conductance, plant water status, and performance under stressful conditions is not well known. This investigation aimed to elucidate how the AM symbiosis modulates the expression of the whole set of aquaporin genes in maize plants under different growing and drought stress conditions, as well as to characterize some of these aquaporins in order to shed further light on the molecules that may be involved in the mycorrhizal responses to drought. The AM symbiosis regulated a wide number of aquaporins in the host plant, comprising members of the different aquaporin subfamilies. The regulation of these genes depends on the watering conditions and the severity of the drought stress imposed. Some of these aquaporins can transport water and also other molecules which are of physiological importance for plant performance. AM plants grew and developed better than non-AM plants under the different conditions assayed. Thus, for the first time, this study relates the well-known better performance of AM plants under drought stress to not only the water movement in their tissues but also the mobilization of N compounds, glycerol, signaling molecules, or metalloids with a role in abiotic stress tolerance. Future studies should elucidate the specific function of each aquaporin isoform regulated by the AM symbiosis in order to shed further light on how the symbiosis alters the plant fitness under stressful conditions.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society