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A silicon transporter in rice


Silicon is beneficial to plant growth and helps plants to overcome abiotic and biotic stresses by preventing lodging (falling over) and increasing resistance to pests and diseases, as well as other stresses1,2,3. Silicon is essential for high and sustainable production of rice4, but the molecular mechanism responsible for the uptake of silicon is unknown. Here we describe the Low silicon rice 1 (Lsi1) gene, which controls silicon accumulation in rice, a typical silicon-accumulating plant. This gene belongs to the aquaporin family5 and is constitutively expressed in the roots. Lsi1 is localized on the plasma membrane of the distal side of both exodermis and endodermis cells, where casparian strips are located. Suppression of Lsi1 expression resulted in reduced silicon uptake. Furthermore, expression of Lsi1 in Xenopus oocytes showed transport activity for silicon only. The identification of a silicon transporter provides both an insight into the silicon uptake system in plants, and a new strategy for producing crops with high resistance to multiple stresses by genetic modification of the root's silicon uptake capacity.

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Figure 1: Phenotype of the lsi1 mutant.
Figure 2: Mapping of Lsi1 and gene structure.
Figure 3: Expression and localization of Lsi1.
Figure 4: Transport activity of Lsi1.


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This research was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Priority Areas from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (to J.F.M.) and a grant from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (Rice Genome Project, to J.F.M.). Author Contributions K.T., N.Y. and N.M. contributed equally to this work. K.T. cloned the gene Lsi1, N.Y. investigated the localization of Lsi1, and N.M. measured the transport activity of Lsi1. J.F.M. performed the field and RNAi experiments and wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jian Feng Ma.

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Competing interests

The nucleotide sequence data reported in this paper has been deposited in the DDBJ/EMBL/GenBank nucleotide sequence databases under accession number AB222272. Reprints and permissions information is available at The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Figure 1

Modelling of Lsi1 protein by computer. (PDF 430 kb)

Supplementary Figure 2

Localization of mRNA of Lsi1 in lateral roots by in situ hybridization. (PDF 1320 kb)

Supplementary Figure 3

Subcellular localization of Lsi1. (PDF 876 kb)

Supplementary Figure 4

Cross section of rice root. (PDF 350 kb)

Supplementary Figure 5

Resistance to Ge toxicity of vector control and RNAi plant. (PDF 983 kb)

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Ma, J., Tamai, K., Yamaji, N. et al. A silicon transporter in rice. Nature 440, 688–691 (2006).

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