Forsum O, Svennerstam H, Ganeteg U, Näsholm T
Capacities and constraints of amino acid utilization in Arabidopsis
New Phytologist: 2008 179:1058-1069

  • Various amino acids, including both L- and D-enantiomers, may be present in soils, and recent studies have indicated that plants may access such nitrogen (N) forms. Here, the capacity of Arabidopsis to utilize different L- and D-amino acids is investigated and the constraints on this process are explored.

  • Mutants defective in the lysine histidine transporter 1 (LHT1) and transgenic plants overexpressing LHT1 as well as plants expressing D-amino acid-metabolizing enzymes, were used in studies of uptake and growth on various N forms.

  • Arabidopsis absorbed all tested N-forms, but D-enantiomers at lower rates than L-forms. Several L- but no D-forms were effective as N sources. Plants deficient in LHT1 displayed strong growth reductions and plants overexpressing LHT1 showed strong growth enhancement when N was supplied as amino acids, in particular when these were supplied at low concentrations. Several D- amino acids inhibited growth of wild-type plants, while transgenic Arabidopsis-expressing genes encoding D-amino acid-metabolizing enzymes could efficiently utilize such compounds for growth.

  • These results suggest that several amino acids, and in particular L-Gln and L-Asn, promote growth of Arabidopsis, and increased expression of specific amino acid transporters enhances growth on amino acids. The efficiency by which transgenic plants exploit D-amino acids illustrates how plants can be engineered to utilize specific N sources otherwise inaccessible to them.
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