Sex-specific responses to Pb stress in Populus deltoides: root architecture and Pb translocation
Transgenic Populus alba over-expressing a TIP aquaporin ( aqua1) showed a higher growth rate under Zn excess, suggesting that aqua1 could be involved in water homeostasis, rather than in Zn homeostasis. Populus is the internationally accepted model for physiological and developmental studies of tree traits under stress. In plants, aquaporins facilitate and regulate the diffusion of water, however, few poplar aquaporins have been characterized to date. In this study, we reported for the first time an in vivo characterization of Populus alba clone Villafranca transgenic plants over-expressing a TIP aquaporin (aqua1) of P. x euramericana clone I-214. An AQUA1:GFP chimeric construct, over-expressed in P. alba Villafranca clones, shows a cytoplasmic localization in roots, and it localizes in guard cells in leaves. When over-expressed in transgenic plants, aqua1 confers a higher growth rate compared to wild-type (wt) plants, without affecting chlorophyll accumulation, relative water content (RWC), and fluorescence performances, but increasing the intrinsic Transpiration Efficiency. In response to Zn (1 mM), transgenic lines did not show a significant increase in Zn accumulation as compared to wt plants, even though the over-expression of this gene confers higher tolerance in root tissues. These results suggest that, in poplar plants, this gene could be principally involved in regulation of water homeostasis and biomass production, rather than in Zn homeostasis.