Annamaria de Rosa working in the lab to explore the diversity and function of aquaporins inside plant cells. Credit:  Dr Tory Clark, CoETP.
Original Published Date: 
Friday, June 19, 2020

Full article issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis.

ARC-supported scientists, including former PhD student Annamaria De Rosa from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis (CoETP) at The Australian National University (ANU), have shed new light on how the network of gatekeepers that controls the traffic in and out of plant cells works, which they believe is key to develop food crops with bigger yields and greater ability to cope with extreme environments.

Everything that a plant needs to grow first needs to pass through its cells’ membranes, which are guarded by a sieve of microscopic pores made of special proteins called aquaporins.

Aquaporins are found in most organisms, from bacteria to humans. In plants, they are vital for numerous plant processes including, water transport, growth and development, stress responses, root nutrient uptake, and photosynthesis.

"We know that if we are able to manipulate aquaporins, it will open numerous useful applications for agriculture, including improving crop productivity, but first we need to know more about their diversity, evolutionary history and the many functional roles they have inside the plant,” Ms De Rosa says.

The research has identified all the different types of aquaporins found in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), a model plant species closely related to major economic crops such as tomato, potato, eggplant and capsicum. Potential applications for crop improvement include better salt tolerance, more efficient fertiliser use, improved drought tolerance, and even more effective response to disease infection.

Photo credit: 

 Annamaria de Rosa working in the lab to explore the diversity and function of aquaporins inside plant cells. Credit: Dr Tory Clark, CoETP.