Diverse phosphate and auxin transport loci distinguish phosphate tolerant from sensitive Arabidopsis accessions

Plant Physiol. 2021 Sep 20:kiab441. doi: 10.1093/plphys/kiab441. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

Phosphorus (P) is an essential element for plant growth often limiting agroecosystems. To identify genetic determinants of performance under variable phosphate (Pi) supply, we conducted genome-wide association studies on five highly predictive Pi starvation response traits in 200 Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) accessions. Pi concentration in Pi-limited organs had the strongest, and primary root length had the weakest genetic component. Of 70 trait-associated candidate genes, 17 responded to Pi withdrawal. The PHOSPHATE TRANSPORTER1 gene cluster on chromosome 5 comprises PHT1;1, PHT1;2, and PHT1;3 with known impact on P status. A second locus featured uncharacterized endomembrane-associated auxin efflux carrier encoding PIN-LIKES7 (PILS7) which was more strongly suppressed in Pi-limited roots of Pi-starvation sensitive accessions. In the Col-0 background, Pi uptake and organ growth were impaired in both Pi-limited pht1;1 and two pils7 T-DNA insertion mutants, while Pi -limited pht1;2 had higher biomass and pht1;3 was indistinguishable from wild-type. Copy number variation at the PHT1 locus with loss of the PHT1;3 gene and smaller scale deletions in PHT1;1 and PHT1;2 predicted to alter both protein structure and function suggest diversification of PHT1 is a key driver for adaptation to P limitation. Haplogroup analysis revealed a phosphorylation site in the protein encoded by the PILS7 allele from stress-sensitive accessions as well as additional auxin-responsive elements in the promoter of the “stress tolerant” allele. The former allele’s inability to complement the pils7-1 mutant in the Col-0 background implies the presence of a kinase signaling loop controlling PILS7 activity in accessions from P-rich environments, while survival in P-poor environments requires fine-tuning of stress-responsive root auxin signaling.

PMID:34636851 | DOI:10.1093/plphys/kiab441

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