State Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Germplasm Enhancement, MOA Key Laboratory of Plant Nutrition and Fertilization in Low-Middle Reaches of the Yangtze River, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China. [Email]
Root morphology is essential for plant survival. NO₃- is not only a nutrient, but also a signal substance affecting root growth in plants. However, the mechanism of NO₃--mediated root growth in rice remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the effect of OsNRT2.1 on root elongation and nitrate signaling-mediated auxin transport using OsNRT2.1 overexpression lines. We observed that the overexpression of OsNRT2.1 increased the total root length in rice, including the seminal root length, total adventitious root length, and total lateral root length in seminal roots and adventitious roots under 0.5-mM NO₃⁻ conditions, but not under 0.5-mM NH₄⁺ conditions. Compared with wild type (WT), the 15NO₃- influx rate of OsNRT2.1 transgenic lines increased by 24.3%, and the expressions of auxin transporter genes (OsPIN1a/b/c and OsPIN2) also increased significantly under 0.5-mM NO₃- conditions. There were no significant differences in root length, ß-glucuronidase (GUS) activity, and the expressions of OsPIN1a/b/c and OsPIN2 in the pDR5::GUS transgenic line between 0.5-mM NO₃- and 0.5-mM NH₄⁺ treatments together with N-1-naphthylphalamic acid (NPA) treatment. When exogenous NPA was added to 0.5-mM NO₃- nutrient solution, there were no significant differences in the total root length and expressions of OsPIN1a/b/c and OsPIN2 between transgenic plants and WT, although the 15NO₃- influx rate of OsNRT2.1 transgenic lines increased by 25.2%. These results indicated that OsNRT2.1 is involved in the pathway of nitrate-dependent root elongation by regulating auxin transport to roots; i.e., overexpressing OsNRT2.1 promotes an effect on root growth upon NO₃- treatment that requires active polar auxin transport.