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Exogenous application of xanthine and uric acid and nucleobase-ascorbate transporter MdNAT7 expression regulate salinity tolerance in apple

Tingting Sun, Tingting Pei, Lulu Yang, Zhijun Zhang, Mingjun Li, Yuerong Liu, Fengwang Ma, Changhai Liu

BMC Plant Biology

DOI:10.1186/s12870-021-02831-y

Abstract

Background: Soil salinity is a critical threat to global agriculture. In plants, the accumulation of xanthine activates xanthine dehydrogenase (XDH), which catalyses the oxidation/conversion of xanthine to uric acid to remove excess reactive oxygen species (ROS). The nucleobase-ascorbate transporter (NAT) family is also known as the nucleobase-cation symporter (NCS) or AzgA-like family. NAT is known to transport xanthine and uric acid in plants. The expression of MdNAT is influenced by salinity stress in apple.

Results: In this study, we discovered that exogenous application of xanthine and uric acid enhanced the resistance of apple plants to salinity stress. In addition, MdNAT7 overexpression transgenic apple plants showed enhanced xanthine and uric acid concentrations and improved tolerance to salinity stress compared with nontransgenic plants, while opposite phenotypes were observed for MdNAT7 RNAi plants. These differences were probably due to the enhancement or impairment of ROS scavenging and ion homeostasis abilities.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that xanthine and uric acid have potential uses in salt stress alleviation, and MdNAT7 can be utilized as a candidate gene to engineer resistance to salt stress in plants.