The amino acid glutamine (Gln) is an important assimilatory intermediate between root-derived inorganic nitrogen (N) (i.e., ammonium) and downstream macromolecules, and is a central regulator in plant N physiology. The timing of Gln accumulation after N uptake by roots has been well characterized. However, the duration of availability of accumulated Gln at a sink tissue has not been well defined. Measuring Gln availability would require temporal measurements of both Gln accumulation and its reciprocal depletion. Furthermore, as Gln varies spatially within a tissue, whole-organ in situ visualization would be valuable. Here, the accumulation and subsequent disappearance of Gln in maize seedling leaves (Zea mays
L.) was imaged in situ throughout the 48 h after N application to roots of N-deprived plants. Free Gln was imaged by placing leaves onto agar embedded with bacterial biosensor cells (GlnLux
) that emit luminescence in the presence of leaf-derived Gln. Seedling leaves 1, 2, and 3 were imaged simultaneously to measure Gln availability across tissues that potentially vary in N sink strength. The results show that following root N fertilization, free Gln accumulates and then disappears with an availability period of up to 24 h following peak accumulation. The availability period of Gln was similar in all seedling leaves, but the amount of accumulation was leaf specific. As Gln is not only a metabolic intermediate, but also a signaling molecule, the potential importance of regulating its temporal availability within plant tissues is discussed.
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