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NRAT1: transporter protein confers aluminum (Al3+) toxicity

NRAT1: transporter protein confers aluminum (Al3+) toxicity

DHAKA, THE 8TH MAY, 2014.THE WORLDWIDE DATA ON SOIL PH HAS ALREADY REACHED AN ALARMING LEVEL  AS IT INITIATES THE RELEASE OF ALUMINUM (AL3+) FROM SOIL MINERALS. THIS SITUATION IS WORSE IN THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES OF ASIA, AFRICA AND SOUTH AMERICA RATHER THAN INOTHER PARTS OF THE GLOBE AS REVEALED IN THE DEMOGRAPHIC PICTURE. ALUMINUM HAMPERS PLANT GROWTH IN TWO MAJOR WAYS. FIRST,  BY INCREASING THE CROSS-LINKING OF PECTIN IN THE CELL WALL WHICH INHIBITS ROOT GROWTH AND ELONGATION. AND SECONDLY, THE PROTEIN, EXPANSINS, RESPONSIBLE FOR CELLULAR GROWTH AND EXPANSION IS HIGHLY SENSITIVE TO ALUMINUM. MOST IMPORTANTLY, FARMERS ARE EXPERIENCING THIS PROBLEM IN CLOSE TO HALF OF THE WORLD’S ARABLE LAND. SURPRISINGLY, RICE IS THE MOST TOLERANT PLANT OTHER THAN ANY OTHER CEREALS AGAINST ALUMINUM TOXICITY, ALTHOUGH ITS ORIGIN, AQUATIC ENVIRONMENT, IS BASED ON NEUTRAL PH.

A RECENT ARTICLE ENTITLED, “NATURAL VARIATION UNDERLIES ALTERATIONS IN NRAMP ALUMINUM TRANSPORTER (NRAT1) EXPRESSION AND FUNCTION THAT PLAY A KEY ROLE IN RICE ALUMINUM TOLERANCE” HAS BEEN PUBLISHED RECENTLY IN THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCE BY A GROUP OF RESEARCHERS FROM CORNELL UNIVERSITY. THERE ARE TWO WAYS FOR PLANTS TO GET RID OF ALUMINUM TOXICITY. FIRSTLY, RELEASING ORGANIC ACIDS, WHICH FORM COMPLEXES WITH ALUMINUM (AL3+), THEREBY NEUTRALIZING ITS EFFECTS BY PREVENTING THEIR ENTRY INTO THE ROOT. THE OTHER WAY IS THE TRANSPORTATION OF ALUMINUM FROM CELL WALL TO INSIDE THE CELL EVENTUALLY DUMPING IT INTO THE VACUOLES. NART1 GENE WORKS THROUGH THE LAST MENTIONED SYSTEM.THEY STUDIED GENETICALLY DIVERSE 24 RICE LINES AND IDENTIFIED THE DIFFERENCES IN CODING AND PROMOTER SEQUENCES OF NART1 GENE. THEY INSERTED NART1 GENE IN BOTH YEAST AND ARABIDOPSIS AS THEY DON’T HAVE ANY FUNCTIONAL HOMOLOG OF THIS GENE. THEIR OBSERVATIONS LED TO THE CONCLUSION THAT NATURAL VARIATION IN CODING SEQUENCES AND REGULATORY OR PROMOTER SEQUENCES CONTRIBUTE FOR ALUMINUM TOLERANCE AND EXPRESSION LEVEL, RESPECTIVELY; FURTHERMORE, THIS PHENOMENON HAS THE POTENTIAL TO CONFER SIGNIFICANT INCREASES IN CROP ACID SOIL TOLERANCE. ACCORDING TO THESE AUTHORS  SOME OTHER CROPS MAY HAVE RELATED NRAT1 GENES THAT ARE MORE NORMALLY EXPRESSED TO VERY HIGH LEVELS. THESE AUTHORS BELIEVE THAT THEY WOULD  POSSIBLY FIND WAYS TO TURN ON THESE GENES OR USE BIOTECHNOLOGY TO INTRODUCE THE RICE NART1 GENE INTO OTHER CROPS. [SUMMARIZED BY THE GRADUATE STUDENT, MOHAMMAD ARIF ASHRAF,PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY LAB.DU.]

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