AtLOS5 overexpression modulated ABA biosynthesis together with ion transporter and PIP aquaporin expression to mediate ion fluxes and water status of maize under salt stress.
Abscisic acid (ABA) is a vital cellular signal in plants, and effective ABA signalling is pivotal for stress tolerance. AtLOS5 encoding molybdenum cofactor sulphurase is a key regulator of ABA biosynthesis. Here, transgenic AtLOS5 plants were generated to explore the role of AtLOS5 in salt tolerance in maize. AtLOS5 overexpression significantly up-regulated the expression of ZmVp14-2, ZmAO, and ZmMOCO, and increased aldehyde oxidase activities, which enhanced ABA accumulation in transgenic plants under salt stress. Concurrently, AtLOS5 overexpression induced the expression of ZmNHX1, ZmCBL4, and ZmCIPK16, and enhanced the root net Na + efflux and H + influx, but decreased net K + efflux, which maintained a high cytosolic K +/Na + ratio in transgenic plants under salt stress. However, amiloride or sodium orthovanadate could significantly elevate K + effluxes and decrease Na + efflux and H + influx in salt-treated transgenic roots, but the K + effluxes were inhibited by TEA, suggesting that ion fluxes regulated by AtLOS5 overexpression were possibly due to activation of Na +/H + antiport and K + channels across the plasma membrane. Moreover, AtLOS5 overexpression could up-regulate the transcripts of ZmPIP1:1, ZmPIP1:5, and ZmPIP2:4, and enhance root hydraulic conductivity. Thus transgenic plants had higher leaf water potential and turgor, which was correlated with greater biomass accumulation under salt stress. Thus AtLOS5 overexpression induced the expression of ABA biosynthetic genes to promote ABA accumulation, which activated ion transporter and PIP aquaporin gene expression to regulate root ion fluxes and water uptake, thus maintaining high cytosolic K + and Na + homeostasis and better water status in maize exposed to salt stress.