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    Nitrate is the primary form of nitrogen uptake in plants, mainly transported by nitrate transporters (NRTs), including NPF (NITRATE TRANSPORTER 1/PEPTIDE TRANSPORTER FAMILY), NRT2 and NRT3. In this study, we identified a total of 78 NPF, seven NRT2, and two NRT3 genes in maize. Phylogenetic analysis divided the NPF family into eight subgroups (NPF1-NPF8), consistent with the results in Arabidopsis thaliana and rice. The NRT2 family appears to have evolved more conservatively than the NPF family, as NRT2 genes contain fewer introns. The promoters of all NRTs are rich in cis-acting elements responding to biotic and abiotic stresses. The expression of NRTs varies in different tissues and developmental stages, with some NRTs only expressed in specific tissues or developmental stages. RNA-seq analysis using Xu178 revealed differential expression of NRTs in response to nitrogen starvation and nitrate resupply. Moreover, the expression patterns of six key NRTs genes (NPF6.6, NPF6.8, NRT2.1, NRT2.5 and NRT3.1A/B) varied in response to alterations in nitrogen levels across distinct maize inbred lines with different nitrogen uptake rates. This work enhances our understanding of the structure and expression of NRTs genes, and their roles in nitrate response, paving the way for improving maize nitrogen efficiency through molecular breeding.


    Lihua Jia, Desheng Hu, Junbo Wang, Yuanyuan Liang, Fang Li, Yi Wang, Yanlai Han. Genome-Wide Identification and Functional Analysis of Nitrate Transporter Genes (NPF, NRT2 and NRT3) in Maize. International journal of molecular sciences. 2023 Aug 18;24(16)

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    PMID: 37629121

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