PtxtPME1 and homogalacturonans influence xylem hydraulic properties in Poplar
Physiol Plant. 2018, 163(4):502-515

Allario T, Tixier A, Awad H, Lemaire C, Brunel N, Badel E, Barigah TS, Julien JL, Peyret P, Mellerowicz EJ, Cochard H, Herbette S

While the xylem hydraulic properties, such as vulnerability to cavitation (VC), are of paramount importance in drought resistance, their genetic determinants remain unexplored. There is evidence that pectins and their methylation pattern are involved, but the detail of their involvement and the corresponding genes need to be clarified. We analysed the hydraulic properties of the 35S::PME1 transgenic aspen that ectopically under- or over-express a xylem-abundant pectin methyl esterase, PtxtPME1. We also produced and analyzed 4CL1::PGII transgenic poplars expressing a fungal polygalacturonase, AnPGII, under the control of the Ptxa4CL1 promoter that is active in the developing xylem after xylem cell expansion. Both the 35S::PME1 under and over-expressing aspen lines developed xylem with lower specific hydraulic conductivity and lower VC, while the 4CL1::PGII plants developed xylem with a higher VC. These xylem hydraulic changes were associated with modifications in xylem structure or in intervessel pit structure that can result in changes in mechanical behaviour of the pit membrane. This study shows that homogalacturonans and their methylation pattern influence xylem hydraulic properties, through its effect on xylem cell expansion and on intervessel pit properties and it show a role for PtxtPME1 in the xylem hydraulic properties.

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