The Role of Plasma Membrane Aquaporins in Regulating the Bundle Sheath-Mesophyll Continuum and Leaf Hydraulics

Nir Sade, Arava Shatil-Cohen, Ziv Attia, Christophe Maurel, Yann Boursiac, Gilor Kelly, David Granot, Adi Yaaran, Stephen Lerner, Menachem Moshelion*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Our understanding of the cellular role of aquaporins (AQPs) in the regulation of whole-plant hydraulics, in general, and extravascular, radial hydraulic conductance in leaves (Kleaf), in particular, is still fairly limited. We hypothesized that the AQPs of the vascular bundle sheath (BS) cells regulate Kleaf. To examine this hypothesis, AQP genes were silenced using artificial microRNAs that were expressed constitutively or specifically targeted to the BS. MicroRNA sequences were designed to target all five AQP genes from the PLASMA MEMBRANE-INTRINSIC PROTEIN1 (PIP1) subfamily. Our results show that the constitutively silenced PIP1 (35S promoter) plants had decreased PIP1 transcript and protein levels and decreased mesophyll and BS osmotic water permeability (Pf),mesophyll conductance of CO2, photosynthesis, Kleaf, transpiration, and shoot biomass. Plants in which the PIP1 subfamily was silenced only in the BS (SCARECROW:microRNA plants) exhibited decreased mesophyll and BS Pf and decreased Kleafbut no decreases in the rest of the parameters listed above, with the net result of increased shoot biomass. We excluded the possibility of SCARECROW promoter activity in the mesophyll. Hence, the fact that SCARECROW:microRNA mesophyll exhibited reduced Pf, but not reduced mesophyll conductance of CO2, suggests that the BS-mesophyll hydraulic continuum acts as a feed-forward control signal. The role of AQPs in the hierarchy of the hydraulic signal pathway controlling leaf water status under normal and limited-water conditions is discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1609-1620
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2014

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© 2014 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved.


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