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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

The Casuarina glauca metallothionein I promoter in nodulated transgenic hairy roots of the actinorhizal plant Datisca glomerata

Rashidi, Behnoosh; Mehrabi, Sara; Demchenko, Kirill; Pawlowski, Katharina


The activity of the promoter of a metallothionein gene expressed in actinorhizal nodules of Casuarina glauca Sieber ex Spreng., CgMT1, has previously been analysed in Casaurinaceae and in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.), Arabidopsis and rice. In all these plants, the promoter showed high activity in the root cortex and epidermis, making it a useful tool for the expression of transgenes. Therefore, its activity was now analysed in transgenic root systems of Datisca glomerata (C. Presl) Baill, an actinorhizal plant from a different phylogenetic group than C. glauca, using the same CgMT1:: GUS fusion as in previous studies. However, in contrast with all other plant species examined previously, the CgMT1:: GUS construct showed no activity at all in D. glomerata hairy roots: the expression pattern in nodules resembled that found in C. glauca nodules. This is probably due to the changed hormone balance in hairy roots since experiments on the CgMT1:: GUS construct in transgenic Arabidopsis showed that CgMT1 promoter activity was repressed by auxin or cytokinin, respectively. Yet, in hairy roots of the model legume Lotus japonicus L. induced by the same Agrobacterium rhizogenes strain, the CgMT1 promoter was active in roots and not in nodules. These results indicate that although the expression of pRi T-DNA genes leads to changes in root hormone balance, these changes do not abolish the differences in phytohormone levels or sensitivity between plant species. Therefore, gene expression data obtained using transgenic hairy root systems have to be viewed with care, not only due to the disturbed hormone balance, but also because the effects of the pRI-T-DNA genes can differ between species.


Agrobacterium rhizogenes; Lotus japonicus; metallothionein; root nodules; roots

Published in

Functional Plant Biology
2011, Volume: 38, number: 9, pages: 728-737

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