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The importance of calcium in nickel tolerance was studied in the nickel hyperaccumulator plant Alyssum inflatum by gene transformation of CAX1, a vacuolar membrane transporter that reduces cytosolic calcium. CAX1 from Arabidopsis thaliana with a CaMV35S promoter accompanying a kanamycin resistance gene was transferred into A. inflatum using Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Transformed calli were subcultured three times on kanamycin-rich media and transformation was confirmed by PCR using a specific primer for CAX1. At least 10 callus lines were used as a pool of transformed material. Both transformed and untransformed calli were treated with varying concentrations of either calcium (1–15 mM) or nickel (0– 500 lM) to compare their responses to those ions. Increased external calcium generally led to increased callus biomass, however, the increase was greater for untransformed callus. Further, increased external calcium led to increased callus calcium concentrations. Transformed callus was less nickel tolerant than untransformed callus: under increasing nickel concentrations callus relative growth rate was significantly less for transformed callus. Transformed callus also contained significantly less nickel than untransformed callus when exposed to the highest external nickel concentration (200 lM). We suggest that transformation with CAX1 decreased cytosolic calcium and resulted in decreased nickel tolerance. This in turn suggests that, at low cytosolic calcium concentrations, other nickel tolerance mechanisms (e.g., complexation and vacuolar sequestration) are insufficient for nickel tolerance. We propose that high cytosolic calcium is an important mechanism that results in nickel tolerance by nickel hyperaccumulator plants.



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