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Plant Sci July 1, 2021; 308 110901.

A nitrate transporter encoded by ZmNPF7.9 is essential for maize seed development.

Wei YM , Ren ZJ , Wang BH , Zhang L , Zhao YJ , Wu JW , Li LG , Zhang XS , Zhao XY .

Nitrogen is an essential macronutrient for plants and regulates many aspects of plant growth and development. Nitrate is one of the major forms of nitrogen in plants. However, the role of nitrate uptake and allocation in seed development is not fully understood. Here, we identified the maize (Zea mays) small-kernel mutant zmnpf7.9 and characterized the candidate gene, ZmNPF7.9, which was the same gene as nitrate transport 1.5 (NRT1.5) in maize. This gene is specifically expressed in the basal endosperm transfer layer cells of maize endosperm. Dysfunction of ZmNPF7.9 resulted in delayed endosperm development, abnormal starch deposition and decreased hundred-grain weight. Functional analysis of cRNA-injected Xenopus oocytes showed that ZmNPF7.9 is a low-affinity, pH-dependent bidirectional nitrate transporter. Moreover, the amount of nitrate in mature seeds of the zmnpf7.9 mutant was reduced. These suggest that ZmNPF7.9 is involved in delivering nitrate from maternal tissues to the developing endosperm. Moreover, most of the key genes associated with glycolysis/gluconeogenesis, carbon fixation, carbon metabolism and biosynthesis of amino acids pathways in the zmnpf7.9 mutant were significantly down-regulated. Thus, our results demonstrate that ZmNPF7.9 plays a specific role in seed development and grain weight by regulating nutrition transport and metabolism, which might provide useful information for maize genetic improvement.

PubMed ID: 34034862
Article link: Plant Sci