Ion and water co-transport mechanisms associated with plant hydraulic conductance


6 August 2019

Time and Venues **please note, different time from usual**


Local Time

Adelaide Waite Campus – B101-FG-R00-BoardWICWest

11:00 am

Armidale – B55-FG-R00-Small

11:30 am

Bribie Island – B01-FG-Small

11:30 am

Brisbane St Lucia QBP – Room 3.323

11:30 am

Canberra Black Mountain – Discovery Lecture Theatre

11:30 am

Irymple (See Natalie Strickland)

11:30 am

Narrabri B03-FG-R00-ATCA

11:30 am

Perth Floreat B40-F1-R46-Rossiter Room

09:30 am

Sandy Bay (Hobart) – B2 F1 R22 Forest View Room

11:30 am

Toowoomba – Media Lab Room

11:30 am

Townsville (see Liz Do)

11:30 am

Werribee (Melbourne) – Peacock Room

11:30 am


Dr Caitlin Byrt, Research School of Biology, ANU



One of the mechanisms plants use to control water and solute transport involves regulating the function of channels called plasma membrane intrinsic proteins (PIPs). In addition to being localised in the plasma membrane and transporting water, some PIPs have been observed in small vesicle, pre-vacuolar, autophagosome and extracellular vesicle membranes, and a subset of PIPs can transport monovalent cations. PIP localisation has been observed to change in response to salt and osmotic stress treatments and this is associated with changes in PIP phosphorylation. We observed that the phosphorylation state of water and ion channel PIPs can change the relative permeability of these channels to water, sodium and potassium. This means that plants could use PIP phosphorylation to control both when and where water and monovalent cations are being transported within compartments inside cells and between cells. As root cells take up soil solution, the water, nutrients and salt ions within the soil solution can be partitioned into different sub-cellular compartments, such as small vesicles, vacuole compartments and autophagosomes. We are exploring whether changes in PIP phosphorylation may be part of the process to control the relative distribution of water, sodium and potassium within different membrane bound compartments inside cells. Sub-cellular control of the transport and compartmentation of water, salt and nutrient ions within aquaporin containing membranous compartments might be an important contributor to the whole plant regulation of hydraulic conductance, nutrient and salt transport.


About the speaker

Caitlin is a newly appointed Group Leader within the Division of Plant Science at ANU. Previously she had the privilege of conducting the majority of her PhD research at CSIRO Plant Industry Black Mountain during her PhD candidature with the University of Adelaide. Caitlin studies mechanisms in plants that contribute to environmental stress tolerance, such as salinity and drought tolerance. She is part of the inspirational team, led by Emeritus Professor Rana Munns and Dr Richard James, which identified sodium exclusion genes in wheat that are important for salinity tolerance. Caitlin’s current research focus is on investigating the physiological roles of specific subsets of a type of membrane intrinsic protein in plants called aquaporins, which influence water, salt and nutrient transport. She has identified subsets of aquaporins in plants that can switch between functioning as water channels and ion channels. Her team have recently identified key regulatory factors controlling this switch in function. These findings open up new opportunities to test the physiological roles of aquaporin ion transport in plants.

This is a public seminar.

Open-access to The CSIRO Discovery Theatre @ Black Mountain