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Over-expression Of A High-affinity Phosphate Transporter In Transgenic Barley Plants Does Not Enhance Phosphate Uptake Rates

Anne L. Rae, Janine M. Jarmey, Stephen R. Mudge, Frank W. Smith

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Transgenic barley plants that over-express the gene encoding a phosphate transporter were generated and used to test the hypothesis that manipulation of transporters may lead to improved phosphate uptake by plant roots. Replicate T2 seedlings from a homozygous line with a single locus insertion were grown in dilute flow culture. The phosphate contents and uptake rates of these plants were compared with control transgenic and wild-type plants. When external phosphate concentration was maintained at 10 μM, all plants including the transgenic over-expressing line displayed low rates of phosphate uptake and contained high levels of phosphate in the shoot tissue. When external phosphate concentration was maintained at 2 μM, the uptake rates increased to a similar level in all plant lines. Three transgenic over-expressing lines were then grown in soil at a range of phosphate concentrations and the dry weights and total phosphorus contents of the shoots were measured and compared to a transgenic control line. The results showed that over-expression of the gene encoding a phosphate transporter did not improve the uptake of phosphate under any of the conditions tested. Transporter activity is likely to be influenced by post-transcriptional mechanisms and will require further investigation before this strategy can be applied to improving plant nutrition.