The spatial expression patterns of a phosphate transporter (MtPT1) from Medicago truncatula indicate a role in phosphate transport at the root/soil interface


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The movement of phosphate from the soil into plant root cells is the first of many crucial transport events required to supply phosphorous (P) to cells throughout the plant. In addition to the ability to acquire phosphate from the soil, the majority of the vascular plants are able to form arbuscular mycorrhizal associations in which phosphate may be delivered to the cortex via a fungus. Previously, we cloned two phosphate transporter genes, MtPT1 and MtPT2 from Medicago truncatula roots. Complementation of a yeast phosphate transport mutant revealed that MtPT1 is a functional phosphate transporter and Northern analyses revealed that MtPT1 is expressed exclusively in roots (Liu et al., 1998, Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 11, 14–22). Utilising an antibody specific for MtPT1, we have analysed the accumulation and spatial expression patterns of the MtPT1 transporter. MtPT1 transcript and protein levels show close correlation and increase dramatically in the roots in response to phosphate starvation. MtPT1 protein levels decrease in roots during development of a symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, indicating that this transporter is not involved in symbiotic phosphate transport. Membrane fractionation and analysis of a MtPT1/GFP fusion protein revealed that MtPT1 is located in the plasma membrane, while in situ hybridisation and immunolocalisation demonstrate the presence of MtPT1 transcripts and protein in the epidermal cells and root hairs of M. truncatula roots. MtPT1 shows expression patterns consistent with a role specifically in the acquisition of phosphate from the soil and is distinct from the other phosphate transporter of this class described to date.