Apoplasmic loading in the rice phloem supported by the presence of sucrose synthase and plasma membrane-localized proton pyrophosphatase

Kamesh C. Regmi, Shangji Zhang, Roberto Gaxiola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background and Aims Although Oryza sativa (rice) is one of the most important cereal crops, the mechanism by which sucrose, the major photosynthate, is loaded into its phloem is still a matter of debate. Current opinion holds that the phloem loading pathway in rice could involve either a symplasmic or an apoplasmic route. It was hypothesized, on the basis of a complementary body of evidence from arabidopsis, which is an apoplasmic loader, that the membrane specificity of proton pyrophosphatases (H+-PPases; OVPs) in the sieve element-companion cell (SE-CC) complexes of rice source leaves would support the existence of either of the aforementioned phloem loading mechanisms. Additionally, it was contended that the presence of sucrose synthase in the SE-CC complexes would be consistent with an apoplasmic sucrose loading route in rice. Methods Conventional chemical fixation methods were used for immunohistochemical localization of H+-PPases and sucrose synthase in rice and arabidopsis at the light microscopy level, while ultrastructural immunogold labelling of H+-PPases and sucrose synthase was performed on high-pressure frozen source leaves of rice. Key Results Using immunogold labelling, it was found that OVPs predominantly localize at the plasma membrane (PM) of the SE-CC complexes in rice source leaf minor veins, while in the root meristematic cells, OVPs preferentially localize at the vacuoles. The PM specificity of OPVs in the SE-CC complexes was deemed to support apoplasmic loading in the rice phloem. Further backing for this interpretation came from the sucrose synthase-specific immunogold labelling at the SE-CC complexes of rice source leaves. Conclusion These findings are consistent with the idea that, in the same way as in arabidopsis and a majority of grasses, sucrose is actively loaded into the SE-CC complexes of rice leaves using an apoplasmic step.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-268
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Botany
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Rice
  • apoplasmic loading
  • phloem loading
  • proton pyrophosphatase
  • sieve element-companion cell complex
  • sucrose synthase
  • symplasmic loading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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