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    High-affinity nitrate transporters (NRT) are key components for nitrogen (N) acquisition and distribution within plants. However, insights on these transporters in wheat are scarce. This study presents a comprehensive analysis of the NRT2 and NRT3 gene families, where the aim is to shed light on their functionality and to evaluate their responses to N availability. A total of 53 NRT2s and 11 NRT3s were identified in the bread wheat genome, and these were grouped into different clades and homoeologous subgroups. The transcriptional dynamics of the identified NRT2 and NRT3 genes, in response to N starvation and nitrate resupply, were examined by RT-qPCR in the roots and shoots of hydroponically grown wheat plants through a time course experiment. Additionally, the spatial expression patterns of these genes were explored within the plant. The NRT2s of clade 1, TaNRT2.1-2.6, showed a root-specific expression and significant upregulation in response to N starvation, thus emphasizing a role in N acquisition. However, most of the clade 2 NRT2s displayed reduced expression under N-starved conditions. Nitrate resupply after N starvation revealed rapid responsiveness in TaNRT2.1-2.6, while clade 2 genes exhibited gradual induction, primarily in the roots. TaNRT2.18 was highly expressed in above-ground tissues and exhibited distinct nitrate-related response patterns for roots and shoots. The TaNRT3 gene expression closely paralleled the profiles of TaNRT2.1-2.6 in response to nitrate induction. These findings enhance the understanding of NRT2 and NRT3 involvement in nitrogen uptake and utilization, and they could have practical implications for improving nitrogen use efficiency. The study also recommends a standardized nomenclature for wheat NRT2 genes, thereby addressing prior naming inconsistencies.


    Petros P Sigalas, Peter Buchner, Alex Kröper, Malcolm J Hawkesford. The Functional Diversity of the High-Affinity Nitrate Transporter Gene Family in Hexaploid Wheat: Insights from Distinct Expression Profiles. International journal of molecular sciences. 2023 Dec 29;25(1)

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    PMID: 38203680

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