Glutathione (GSH) is a tripeptide involved in controlling heavy metal movement in plants. Our previous study showed that GSH, when site-specifically applied to plant roots, inhibits Cd translocation from the roots to shoots in hydroponically cultured oilseed rape (Brassica napus) plants. A factor that led to this inhibitory effect was the activation of Cd efflux from root cells. To further investigate the molecular mechanism triggered by root-applied GSH, Cd movement was non-invasively monitored using a positron-emitting tracer imaging system. The Cd absorption and efflux process in the roots were visualized successfully. The effects of GSH on Cd efflux from root cells were estimated by analyzing imaging data. Reanalysis of image data suggested that GSH applied to roots, at the shoot base, activated Cd return. Cutting the shoot base significantly inhibited Cd efflux from root cells. These experimental results demonstrate that the shoot base plays an important role in distributing Cd throughout the plant body. Furthermore, microarray analysis revealed that about 400 genes in the roots responded to root-applied GSH. Among these, there were genes for transporter proteins related to heavy metal movement in plants and proteins involved in the structure modification of cell walls.
Keywords: Cadmium (Cd); Efflux; Glutathione (GSH); Oilseed rape plant (Brassica napus); Positron-emitting tracer imaging system (PETIS); Shoot base.
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