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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Constitutive overexpression of soybean plasma membrane intrinsic protein GmPIP1;6 confers salt tolerance

Lian Zhou12, Chuang Wang1, Ruifang Liu1, Qiang Han1, Rebecca K Vandeleur3, Juan Du1, Steven Tyerman3 and Huixia Shou1*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, P. R. China

2 Present Address: College of Agriculture and Biotechnology, Southwest University, 400715 Chongqing, P. R. China

3 Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Waite Research Institute, University of Adelaide, PMB1, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia

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BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14:181  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-181

Published: 7 July 2014

Abstract

Background

Under saline conditions, plant growth is depressed via osmotic stress and salt can accumulate in leaves leading to further depression of growth due to reduced photosynthesis and gas exchange. Aquaporins are proposed to have a major role in growth of plants via their impact on root water uptake and leaf gas exchange. In this study, soybean plasma membrane intrinsic protein 1;6 (GmPIP1;6) was constitutively overexpressed to evaluate the function of GmPIP1;6 in growth regulation and salt tolerance in soybean.

Results

GmPIP1;6 is highly expressed in roots as well as reproductive tissues and the protein targeted to the plasma membrane in onion epidermis. Treatment with 100 mM NaCl resulted in reduced expression initially, then after 3 days the expression was increased in root and leaves. The effects of constitutive overexpression of GmPIP1;6 in soybean was examined under normal and salt stress conditions. Overexpression in 2 independent lines resulted in enhanced leaf gas exchange, but not growth under normal conditions compared to wild type (WT). With 100 mM NaCl, net assimilation was much higher in the GmPIP1;6-Oe and growth was enhanced relative to WT. GmPIP1;6-Oe plants did not have higher root hydraulic conductance (Lo) under normal conditions, but were able to maintain Lo under saline conditions compared to WT which decreased Lo. GmPIP1;6-Oe lines grown in the field had increased yield resulting mainly from increased seed size.

Conclusions

The general impact of overexpression of GmPIP1;6 suggests that it may be a multifunctional aquaporin involved in root water transport, photosynthesis and seed loading. GmPIP1;6 is a valuable gene for genetic engineering to improve soybean yield and salt tolerance.

Keywords:
Soybean; Aquaporins; Salt tolerance; Ovexpression; Transformation; GmPIP1;6