Rice sucrose transporter1 (OsSUT1) up-regulation in xylem parenchyma is caused by aphid feeding on rice leaf blade vascular bundles



The role of the sucrose transporter OsSUT1 in assimilate retrieval via the xylem, as a result of damage to and leakage from punctured phloem was examined after rusty plum aphid (Hysteroneura setariae, Thomas) infestation on leaves from 3-week-old rice (Oryza sativa L. cv Nipponbare) plants. Leaves were examined over a 1- to 10-day infestation time course, using a combination of gene expression and β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene analyses. qPCR and Western blot analyses revealed differential expression of OsSUT1 during aphid infestation. Wide-field fluorescence microscopy was used to confirm the expression of OsSUT1-promoter::GUS reporter gene in vascular parenchyma associated with xylem elements, as well as in companion cells associated with phloem sieve tubes of large, intermediate and small vascular bundles within the leaf blade, in regions where the aphids had settled and were feeding. Of great interest was up-regulation of OsSUT1 expression associated with the xylem parenchyma cells, abutting the metaxylem vessels, which confirmed that OsSUT1 was not only involved in loading of sugars into the phloem under normal physiological conditions, but was apparently involved in the retrieval of sucrose leaked into the xylem conduits, which occurred as a direct result of aphid feeding, probing and puncturing of vascular bundles. The up-regulation of OsSUT1 in xylem vascular parenchyma thus provides evidence in support of the location within the xylem parenchyma cells of an efficient mechanism to ensure sucrose recovery after loss to the apoplast (xylem) after aphid-related feeding damage and its transfer back to the symplast (phloem) in O. sativa leaves.