The Arabidopsis Halophytic Relative Thellungiella halophila Tolerates Nitrogen-Limiting Conditions by Maintaining Growth, Nitrogen Uptake, and Assimilation
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A comprehensive knowledge of mechanisms regulating nitrogen (N) use efficiency is required to reduce excessive input of N fertilizers while maintaining acceptable crop yields under limited N supply. Studying plant species that are naturally adapted to low N conditions could facilitate the identification of novel regulatory genes conferring better N use efficiency. Here, we show that Thellungiella halophila, a halophytic relative of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), grows better than Arabidopsis under moderate (1 mm nitrate) and severe (0.4 mm nitrate) N-limiting conditions. Thellungiella exhibited a lower carbon to N ratio than Arabidopsis under N limitation, which was due to Thellungiella plants possessing higher N content, total amino acids, total soluble protein, and lower starch content compared with Arabidopsis. Furthermore, Thellungiella had higher amounts of several metabolites, such as soluble sugars and organic acids, under N-sufficient conditions (4 mm nitrate). Nitrate reductase activity and NR2 gene expression in Thellungiella displayed less of a reduction in response to N limitation than in Arabidopsis. Thellungiella shoot GS1 expression was more induced by low N than in Arabidopsis, while in roots, Thellungiella GS2 expression was maintained under N limitation but was decreased in Arabidopsis. Up-regulation of NRT2.1 and NRT3.1 expression was higher and repression of NRT1.1 was lower in Thellungiella roots under N-limiting conditions compared with Arabidopsis. Differential transporter gene expression was correlated with higher nitrate influx in Thellungiella at low (15)NO(3)(-) supply. Taken together, our results suggest that Thellungiella is tolerant to N-limited conditions and could act as a model system to unravel the mechanisms for low N tolerance.
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