Copper (Cu) is an essential element for plants, especially in photosynthesis, as it is required for plastocyanin function in electron transfer reactions at thylakoid membranes. In Arabidopsis thaliana, Cu deficiency leads to the Cu economy response, in which plants prioritize Cu usage by plastocyanin in detriment of non-essential cupric proteins. In rice (Oryza sativa), however, this response has not been characterized. Rice OsHMA5 is a Cu xylem-loading transporter involved in Cu translocation from roots to shoots, as suggested by the analysis of oshma5 mutant plants. Aiming to understand how rice plants respond to Cu deficiency and how decreased Cu translocation to shoots can affect this response, we characterized the physiological and molecular responses of WT and oshma5 plants under control and Cu deficiency treatments. We found evidence that shoots of oshma5 plants are more prone to Cu deficiency compared to shoots of WT plants, as demonstrated by decreased chlorophyll and Cu concentrations, and electron transport rate. Gene expression analysis revealed that Cu high-affinity transporters OsCOPT1 and OsCOPT5, along with a set of miRNAs and three Cu/Zn superoxide dismutases are responsive to Cu deficiency in both WT and oshma5 plants, suggesting their involvement in the Cu economy response. However, Fe superoxide dismutase was not up-regulated in rice, indicating a difference compared to the A. thaliana Cu economy model. Therefore, we provide evidence for a partially conserved Cu economy response in rice, in comparison to A. thaliana.
Keywords: Copper deficiency; Copper homeostasis; Cu-miRNAs; Oryza sativa; OsHMA5; Rice; Xylem loading.
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