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Brazilian Journal of Botany

Print version ISSN 0100-8404

Abstract

GASPAR, Marília. Aquaporins: from water channels to multifunctional transporters in plants. Rev. bras. Bot. [online]. 2011, vol.34, n.4, pp. 481-491. ISSN 0100-8404.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-84042011000400002.

From the functional identification of the first plant aquaporin, in 1993, up to today, a lot of information about the structure, location and function of different members of this multigene family of membrane proteins was provided by the scientific community. Initially regarded as "simple water channels", the aquaporins have been shown to transport gases and small neutral solutes such as glycerol, urea and silicon, transforming the concept of transmembrane transport. Due to the redundancy of aquaporin genes and their distribution in all organs and plant tissues, these proteins have been considered essential in maintaining vital functions in plants such as water and nutrient uptake in roots, seed germination, photosynthesis, transpiration and reproduction. This work presents a review on molecular and functional characterization of aquaporins and their relevance for plant development and in response to environmental stresses. Despite advances in research on plant aquaporins, there are few studies with native species from tropical regions and therefore there is a vast field of research to be explored, given the differences in water availability, the occurrence of various environmental stresses in tropical biomes, and the mechanisms employed by plants of these regions to be adapted to the wide variety of environmental conditions.

Keywords : major intrinsic protein (MIP); solute transport; stress response; water balance.

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