HvLsi1 is a silicon influx transporter in barley


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Most plants accumulate silicon in their bodies, and this is thought to be important for resistance against biotic and abiotic stresses; however, the molecular mechanisms for Si uptake and accumulation are poorly understood. Here, we describe an Si influx transporter, HvLsi1, in barley. This protein is homologous to rice influx transporter OsLsi1 with 81% identity, and belongs to a Nod26-like major intrinsic protein sub-family of aquaporins. Heterologous expression in both Xenopus laevis oocytes and a rice mutant defective in Si uptake showed that HvLsi1 has transport activity for silicic acid. Expression of HvLsi1 was detected specifically in the basal root, and the expression level was not affected by Si supply. There was a weak correlation between Si uptake and the expression level of HvLsi1 in eight cultivars tested. In the seminal roots, HvLsi1 is localized on the plasma membrane on the distal side of epidermal and cortical cells. HvLsi1 is also located in lateral roots on the plasma membrane of hypodermal cells. These cell-type specificity of localization and expression patterns of HvLsi1 are different from those of OsLsi1. These observations indicate that HvLsi1 is a silicon influx transporter that is involved in radial transport of Si through the epidermal and cortical layers of the basal roots of barley.