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      Using membrane transporters to improve crops for sustainable food production.

      Nature

      Agriculture, methods, Aluminum, toxicity, Biological Transport, Cell Wall, metabolism, Conservation of Natural Resources, Crops, Agricultural, drug effects, genetics, microbiology, Food Supply, statistics & numerical data, Genetic Engineering, Humans, Iron, Membrane Transport Proteins, Nitrates, Nutritive Value, Phosphates, Public Health, Salinity, Sodium, Soil, chemistry, Sucrose, Zinc

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          Abstract

          With the global population predicted to grow by at least 25 per cent by 2050, the need for sustainable production of nutritious foods is critical for human and environmental health. Recent advances show that specialized plant membrane transporters can be used to enhance yields of staple crops, increase nutrient content and increase resistance to key stresses, including salinity, pathogens and aluminium toxicity, which in turn could expand available arable land.

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          Most cited references 60

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          Sugar transporters for intercellular exchange and nutrition of pathogens.

          Sugar efflux transporters are essential for the maintenance of animal blood glucose levels, plant nectar production, and plant seed and pollen development. Despite broad biological importance, the identity of sugar efflux transporters has remained elusive. Using optical glucose sensors, we identified a new class of sugar transporters, named SWEETs, and show that at least six out of seventeen Arabidopsis, two out of over twenty rice and two out of seven homologues in Caenorhabditis elegans, and the single copy human protein, mediate glucose transport. Arabidopsis SWEET8 is essential for pollen viability, and the rice homologues SWEET11 and SWEET14 are specifically exploited by bacterial pathogens for virulence by means of direct binding of a bacterial effector to the SWEET promoter. Bacterial symbionts and fungal and bacterial pathogens induce the expression of different SWEET genes, indicating that the sugar efflux function of SWEET transporters is probably targeted by pathogens and symbionts for nutritional gain. The metazoan homologues may be involved in sugar efflux from intestinal, liver, epididymis and mammary cells.
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            Salt tolerance conferred by overexpression of a vacuolar Na+/H+ antiport in Arabidopsis.

            Agricultural productivity is severely affected by soil salinity. One possible mechanism by which plants could survive salt stress is to compartmentalize sodium ions away from the cytosol. Overexpression of a vacuolar Na+/H+ antiport from Arabidopsis thaliana in Arabidopsis plants promotes sustained growth and development in soil watered with up to 200 millimolar sodium chloride. This salinity tolerance was correlated with higher-than-normal levels of AtNHX1 transcripts, protein, and vacuolar Na+/H+ (sodium/proton) antiport activity. These results demonstrate the feasibility of engineering salt tolerance in plants.
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              CHL1 functions as a nitrate sensor in plants.

              Ions serve as essential nutrients in higher plants and can also act as signaling molecules. Little is known about how plants sense changes in soil nutrient concentrations. Previous studies showed that T101-phosphorylated CHL1 is a high-affinity nitrate transporter, whereas T101-dephosphorylated CHL1 is a low-affinity transporter. In this study, analysis of an uptake- and sensing-decoupled mutant showed that the nitrate transporter CHL1 functions as a nitrate sensor. Primary nitrate responses in CHL1T101D and CHLT101A transgenic plants showed that phosphorylated and dephosphorylated CHL1 lead to a low- and high-level response, respectively. In vitro and in vivo studies showed that, in response to low nitrate concentrations, protein kinase CIPK23 can phosphorylate T101 of CHL1 to maintain a low-level primary response. Thus, CHL1 uses dual-affinity binding and a phosphorylation switch to sense a wide range of nitrate concentrations in the soil, thereby functioning as an ion sensor in higher plants. For a video summary of this article, see the PaperFlick file with the Supplemental Data available online.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                23636397
                3954111
                10.1038/nature11909

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