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Acta Agronomica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (3): 739-746.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1006.2022.12011


Effects of enhancing leaf nitrogen output on tiller growth and carbon metabolism in rice

WANG Yan1(), CHEN Zhi-Xiong2, JIANG Da-Gang3, ZHANG Can-Kui4, ZHA Man-Rong1,*()   

  1. 1College of Biology and Environmental Sciences, Jishou University, Jishou 416000, Hunan, China
    2College of Agriculture, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, Guangdong, China
    3College of Life Sciences, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, Guangdong, China
    4Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, Indiana 47907, IN, USA
  • Received:2021-02-10 Accepted:2021-06-16 Online:2021-07-19 Published:2021-07-19
  • Contact: ZHA Man-Rong E-mail:wy90408@163.com;zmr0729@163.com
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(32060432);Research Foundation of Education Bureau of Hunan Province(18C0578);Guangdong Key Laboratory for Crop Germplasm Resources Preservation and Utilization(2020B121201008)


Nitrogen fertilizer application is one of the main cultivation measures to raise the yield, and high nitrogen level has limited contribution to grain yield due to limited nitrogen translocation in rice. To clarify the effects of nitrogen allocation on rice growth, we constructed pOsSUT1::AtAMT1.2 transgenic rice, the ammonium transporter gene AtAMT1.2 specific expression in phloem to promote leaf nitrogen output. The growth and yield of transgenic plants were measured under HN (high nitrogen) and LN (low nitrogen) conditions. Compared to WT plants, more tillers and higher grain yield were detected in transgenic plants in response to HN condition. The sugar output in leaves was increased, and the relative expression levels of the strigolactone pathway related genes OsTB1 and OsD14 in tiller buds were down-regulated. Our results indicated that the increase of leaf nitrogen export by overexpressing AtAMT1.2 gene could promote sugar translocation from leaves to tillering buds, which improved the growth of tiller, increased the effective tiller number and nitrogen use efficiency.

Key words: nitrogen, rice (Oryza sativa L.), tiller, nitrogen use efficiency

Table 1

Primers for qRT-PCR in this study"

Gene name
Forward primer (5'-3')
Reverse primer (5'-3')

Fig. 1

Screening of pOsSUT1::AtAMT1.2 transgenic lines A: the relative expression level of AtAMT1.2 in leaf; B: tiller number. *: P < 0.05; **: P < 0.01. (n = 3)."

Fig. 2

Growth of pOsSUT1::AtAMT1.2 transgenic rice plants under different nitrogen conditions in 2020 (A): phenotype of rice plants at elongation stage, Bar: 15 cm; (B) number of tillers and (C) dry weight of transgenic rice plants in HN; (D) tillers number and (E) dry weight of transgenic rice plants in LN. *: P < 0.05; **: P < 0.01 (n = 3); HN: high nitrogen; LN: low nitrogen."

Table 2

Effects of different nitrogen rates on grain yield and yield components in pOsSUT1::AtAMT1.2 transgenic rice plants"

Planting time/treatment
Effective panicle per plant
Spikelets per panicle
Spikelets per plant
Grain yield (g plant-1)
2020/5 高氮HN WT 7.0±1.9 72.3 ±11.9 490.5±95.3 9.8±1.8
SA11 10.0±2.1** 74.5±11.2 721.3±140.1** 16.6±2.5**
SA33 9.6±2.2* 75.8±12.2 744.3±152.8** 17.0±2.5**
低氮LN WT 5.3±1.5 52.5±7.1 246.6±60.8 5.4±1.0
SA11 5.3±1.6 52.4±6.4 257.4±44.1 5.5±1.1
SA33 5.5±1.5 53.3±8.8 255.2±47.5 5.5±1.0
2020/9 高氮HN WT 9.6±1.0 83.7±17.2 833.1±114.0 19.6±2.3
SA11 15.2±1.4** 82.5±10.1 1146.7±214.4** 27.9±3.9**
SA33 14.1±1.5* 86.7±17.4 1087.6±146.3* 27.5±4.0**
低氮LN WT 6.5±1.0 61.7±8.0 403.8±77.8 9.7±1.7
SA11 6.9±0.9 63.1±8.9 442.6±75.1 10.0±1.4
SA33 6.7±1.1 62.1±7.9 420.4±73.6 9.8±0.9

Table 3

Effects of nitrogen amount on nitrogen concentration in the different organs of pOsSUT1::AtAMT1.2 transgenic rice"

Planting date/treatment

Leaf (%)

Steam (%)

Panicle (%)
2020/5 高氮HN WT 1.07±0.09 0.96±0.06 1.03±0.08
SA11 0.98±0.05* 1.01±0.10 1.15±0.07**
SA33 0.97±0.07* 1.02±0.07* 1.13±0.08**
低氮LN WT 0.86±0.05 0.83±0.06 0.79±0.06
SA11 0.85±0.04 0.86±0.04 0.81±0.05
SA33 0.87±0.06 0.85±0.04 0.82±0.06
2020/9 高氮HN WT 1.00±0.09 0.94±0.06 1.12±0.12
SA11 0.93±0.04* 1.01±0.10 1.28±0.11**
SA33 0.91±0.08* 1.04±0.11* 1.27±0.09**
低氮LN WT 0.84±0.08 0.83±0.06 0.81±0.06
SA11 0.85±0.07 0.84±0.05 0.84±0.11
SA33 0.83±0.09 0.86±0.06 0.83±0.06

Fig. 3

Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of pOsSUT1::AtAMT1.2 transgenic rice plants under different nitrogen levels The transgenic rice plants were planted in September in 2020. *: P < 0.05; **: P < 0.01 (n = 3); HN: high nitrogen; LN: low nitrogen."

Fig. 4

Tiller number and biomass accumulation of pOsSUT1::AtAMT1.2 transgenic rice plants The transgenic rice plants were planted in September in 2020. (A) the number of tillers; (B) fresh weight; (C) the relative expression levels of genes related to the strigolactone pathway in tillering buds. *: P < 0.05; **: P < 0.01 (n = 3); DAS: days after seeding."

Fig. 5

Relative expression patterns of genes related to nitrogen metabolism in pOsSUT1::AtAMT1.2 transgenic rice plant leaves under high nitrogen The transgenic rice plants were planted in September in 2020. *: P < 0.05; **: P < 0.01 (n = 3)."

Fig. 6

Carbon and nitrogen metabolism in pOsSUT1::AtAMT1.2 transgenic rice plant leaves under high nitrogen The transgenic rice plants were planted in September in 2020. (A) the photosynthetic efficiency; (B) the content of starch; (C) the content of soluble sugar; (D) the relative expression levels of sugar transporters. *: P < 0.05; **: P < 0.01 (n = 3); Pn: net photosynthetic rate."

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