Transcriptome analysis reveals coordinated spatiotemporal regulation of hemoglobin and nitrate reductase in response to nitrate in maize roots


Author for correspondence:
Silvia Quaggiotti
Tel: +39 049 8272914


  • Given the importance of nitrogen for plant growth and the environmental costs of intense fertilization, an understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the root adaptation to nitrogen fluctuations is a primary goal for the development of biotechnological tools for sustainable agriculture. This research aimed to identify the molecular factors involved in the response of maize roots to nitrate.
  • cDNA-amplified fragment length polymorphism was exploited for comprehensive transcript profiling of maize (Zea mays) seedling roots grown with varied nitrate availabilities; 336 primer combinations were tested and 661 differentially regulated transcripts were identified. The expression of selected genes was studied in depth through quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization.
  • Over 50% of the genes identified responded to prolonged nitrate starvation and a few were identified as putatively involved in the early nitrate signaling mechanisms. Real-time results and in situ localization analyses demonstrated co-regulated transcriptional patterns in root epidermal cells for genes putatively involved in nitric oxide synthesis/scavenging.
  • Our findings, in addition to strengthening already known mechanisms, revealed the existence of a new complex signaling framework in which brassinosteroids (BRI1), the module MKK2–MAPK6 and the fine regulation of nitric oxide homeostasis via the co-expression of synthetic (nitrate reductase) and scavenging (hemoglobin) components may play key functions in maize responses to nitrate.