Malate enhances recovery from aluminum-caused inhibition of root elongation in wheat

Satoshi Kikui, Takayuki Sasaki, Hiroki Osawa, Hideaki Matsumoto, Yoko Yamamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Toxic aluminum (Al) ion is a major constraint to plant growth in acid soils. Aluminum tolerance in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is strongly related to the Al-triggered efflux of malate from root apices. A role of the secreted malate has been postulated to be in chelating Al and thus excluding it from root apices (malate hypothesis), but the actual process has yet to be fully elucidated. We measured Al content and root growth during and after Al exposure using seedlings of near-isogenic lines [ET8 (Al tolerant) and ES8 (Al sensitive)] differing in the capacity to induce Al-triggered malate efflux. Aluminum doses that caused 50% root growth inhibition during 24-h exposure to Al in calcium (Ca) solution (0.5 mM CaCl2, pH 4.5) were 50 μM in ET8 and 5 μM in ES8. Under such conditions, the amount of Al accumulated in root apices was approximately 2-fold higher in ET8 than ES8. Al-treated seedlings were then transferred to the Al-free Ca solution for 24 h. Compared to control roots (no Al pretreatment), root regrowth of Al-treated roots was about 100% in ET8 and about 25% in ES8. The impaired regrowth in ES8 was observed even after 24-h exposure to 2.5 μM Al which had caused only 20% root growth inhibition. The addition of malate (100 μM) during exposure to 50 μM Al in ES8 enhanced root growth 1.6 times and regrowth in Al-free solution 7 times, resulting in similar root growth and regrowth as in ET8. Short-term Al treatments of ES8 for up to 5 h indicated that the Al-caused inhibition of root regrowth started after 1-h exposure to Al. The stimulating effect of malate on root regrowth was observed when malate was present during Al exposure, but not when roots previously exposed to Al were rinsed with malate, although Al accumulation in root apices was similar under these malate treatments. We conclude that the malate secreted from root apices under Al exposure is essential for the apices to commence regrowth in Al-free medium, the trait that is not related to the exclusion of Al from the apices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


  • Aluminum
  • Exclusion mechanism
  • Malate
  • Root growth inhibition
  • Root growth recovery
  • Wheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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