ars1, an Arabidopsis mutant exhibiting increased tolerance to arsenate and increased phosphate uptake

Plant J. 2003 Sep;35(5):637-46. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-313x.2003.01835.x.


Arsenic is one of the most toxic pollutants at contaminated sites, yet little is known about the mechanisms by which certain plants survive exposure to high arsenic levels. To gain insight into the mechanisms of arsenic tolerance in plants, we developed a genetic screen to isolate Arabidopsis thaliana mutants with altered tolerance to arsenic. We report here on the isolation of a mutant arsenic resisant 1 (ars1) with increased tolerance to arsenate. ars1 germinates and develops under conditions that completely inhibit growth of wild-type plants and shows a semi-dominant arsenic resistance phenotype. ars1 accumulates levels of arsenic similar to that accumulated by wild-type plants, suggesting that ars1 plants have an increased ability to detoxify arsenate. However, ars1 plants produce phytochelatin levels similar to levels produced by the wild type, and the enhanced resistance of ars1 is not abolished by the gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase inhibitor l-buthionine sulfoxime (BSO). Furthermore, ars1 plants do not show resistance to arsenite or other toxic metals such as cadmium and chromium. However, ars1 plants do show a higher rate of phosphate uptake than that shown by wild-type plants, and wild-type plants grown with an excess of phosphate show increased tolerance to arsenate. Traditional models of arsenate tolerance in plants are based on the suppression of phosphate uptake pathways and consequently on the reduced uptake of arsenate. Our data suggest that arsenate tolerance in ars1 could be due to a new mechanism mediated by increased phosphate uptake in ars1. Models discussing how increased phosphate uptake could contribute to arsenate tolerance are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / drug effects
  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Arsenates / metabolism*
  • Arsenates / pharmacology
  • Arsenite Transporting ATPases
  • Buthionine Sulfoximine / pharmacology
  • Cadmium / metabolism
  • Chromium / metabolism
  • Cotyledon / drug effects
  • Cotyledon / genetics
  • Cotyledon / metabolism
  • Glutamate-Cysteine Ligase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Ion Pumps / genetics
  • Ion Pumps / metabolism
  • Metalloproteins / biosynthesis
  • Multienzyme Complexes / genetics
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Phosphates / metabolism*
  • Phytochelatins


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Arsenates
  • Ion Pumps
  • Metalloproteins
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Phosphates
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Buthionine Sulfoximine
  • Phytochelatins
  • Arsenite Transporting ATPases
  • Glutamate-Cysteine Ligase
  • Glutathione