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Molecular dissection of plant toxic metal tolerance through exploration of natural variation in Arabidopsis thaliana

Sina Fischer1, Stephan Clemens1
1 Pflanzenphysiologie, University of Bayreuth

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02.10.2014, 10:20-10:35, H36, NW III

Due to their sessile nature plants display a huge range of variation in order to allow for adaptation to changing environmental conditions. We are interested in understanding (i) the homeostatic network enabling plants to acquire essential heavy metals and (ii) mechanisms of metal detoxification. One of our approaches to identify network components is the genetic analysis of natural variation in A. thaliana.

Lead (Pb), for example, is a highly toxic heavy metal which humans have been releasing into the environment since ancient times1. Pb is highly persistent in soil and therefore continues to cause problems for human health. Uptake by plants represents the main pathway of Pb into food webs. Despite this environmental relevance the understanding of Pb effects on plants is very limited due to experimental challenges caused by the chemistry of Pb. Pb has a low solubility at pH above 5 and easily forms Pb-phosphate precipitates. Thus, specific conditions and careful monitoring of Pb bioavailability are essential to study Pb responses.

After establishing such an experimental setup we were able to directly show for the first time an involvement of phytochelatins (PCs) in Pb detoxification2. We are now investigating ecotypes differing in Pb sensitivity to identify new components of Pb detoxification mechanisms. Methods of next generation sequencing are used to study a newly discovered ecotype, originating on very acidic soil yet displaying a high Pb sensitivity.

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last modified 2014-09-15