Functional analysis of the OsNPF4.5 nitrate transporter reveals a conserved mycorrhizal pathway of nitrogen acquisition in plants

Shuangshuang Wang, Aiqun Chen, Kun Xie, Xiaofeng Yang, Zhenzhen Luo, Jiadong Chen, Dechao Zeng, Yuhan Ren, Congfan Yang, Lingxiao Wang, Huimin Feng, Damar Lizbeth López-Arredondo, Luis Rafael Herrera-Estrella, Guohua Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Low availability of nitrogen (N) is often a major limiting factor to crop yield in most nutrient-poor soils. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are beneficial symbionts of most land plants that enhance plant nutrient uptake, particularly of phosphate. A growing number of reports point to the substantially increased N accumulation in many mycorrhizal plants; however, the contribution of AM symbiosis to plant N nutrition and the mechanisms underlying the AM-mediated N acquisition are still in the early stages of being understood. Here, we report that inoculation with AM fungus Rhizophagus irregularis remarkably promoted rice (Oryza sativa) growth and N acquisition, and about 42% of the overall N acquired by rice roots could be delivered via the symbiotic route under N-NO3- supply condition. Mycorrhizal colonization strongly induced expression of the putative nitrate transporter gene OsNPF4.5 in rice roots, and its orthologs ZmNPF4.5 in Zea mays and SbNPF4.5 in Sorghum bicolor. OsNPF4.5 is exclusively expressed in the cells containing arbuscules and displayed a low-affinity NO3- transport activity when expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Moreover, knockout of OsNPF4.5 resulted in a 45% decrease in symbiotic N uptake and a significant reduction in arbuscule incidence when NO3- was supplied as an N source. Based on our results, we propose that the NPF4.5 plays a key role in mycorrhizal NO3- acquisition, a symbiotic N uptake route that might be highly conserved in gramineous species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16649-16659
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 14 2020


  • Arbuscular mycorrhiza
  • Nitrate transporter
  • Nitrogen uptake
  • OsNPF4.5
  • RNA sequencing


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