Scientists at Okayama University in Japan have discovered a transporter called Silicon Efflux Transporter 4 (SIET4) that plays a crucial role in the accumulation of silicon (Si) in rice leaves. Si accumulation in plants is known to provide protection against abiotic and biotic stressors such as drought, cold, heat, pests, and pathogens. While the transporters responsible for Si uptake through the roots and translocation to the shoots have been identified, the mechanisms behind Si deposition in leaves remained unknown.
The research team conducted various experiments, including generating SIET4 knockout mutants and analyzing their transcription profiles, transport activity, and cellular localization. The results showed that SIET4 functions as a Si transporter and is primarily expressed on the distal side of epidermal and bulliform cells in the leaf blade. The mutants lacking SIET4 exhibited inhibited growth and abnormal Si deposition in leaf mesophyll cells, as well as the induction of stress response genes.
These findings challenge the long-held belief that Si, which accounts for a significant proportion of a plant’s dry weight, is benign to plants. The study demonstrates that Si accumulation in specific tissues, such as the leaf, is vital for plant survival. The research, which took 10 years to complete, opens up new possibilities for improving Si accumulation in other plant species and enhancing the productivity of important crops.
According to Dr. Jian Feng Ma, the lead researcher, this discovery provides valuable insights into the molecular mechanisms of high Si accumulation in plants. The team aims to identify similar genes in other plant species to further enhance crop productivity.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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