Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Genetics and Genomics of Complex Traits in Grain Crops

Location: Plant Genetics Research

Title: Water deficit-induced changes in transcription factor expression in maize seedlings

Author
item Seeve, Candace
item Cho, In-jeong
item Hearne, Leonard
item Srivastava, Gyan
item Joshi, Trupti
item Smith, Dante
item Sharp, Robert
item Oliver, Melvin - Mel

Submitted to: Plant Cell and Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/19/2016
Publication Date: 1/20/2017
Citation: Seeve, C.M., Cho, I., Hearne, L.B., Srivastava, G.P., Joshi, T., Smith, D., Sharp, R.E., Oliver, M.J. 2017. Water deficit-induced changes in transcription factor expression in maize seedlings. Plant Cell and Environment. 40:686-701. doi: 10.1111/pce.12891.

Interpretive Summary: Water-deficit stress (a component of drought)has a major negative impact on crop yield world-wide and as this is predicted to occur more frequently as global climate change takes hold, it is imperative for agriculture to develop new approaches to develop drought tolerant crops. Plants tolerate water deficits by regulating gene networks controlling cellular and physiological traits to modify growth and development. Transcription factor (TFs) direct the regulation of these gene networks and are key to eliciting appropriate responses. In this study, we examined the expression response of 536 TF genes in individual tissues of maize seedlings grown in under well-watered and water-deficit conditions. We identified 392 TF genes for which gene expression was impacted by a water-deficit stress, including TFs that were stress-responsive and TFs that regulate growth and development. TFs in the latter category are positioned to regulate gene networks that intersect growth and development and environmental stress responses. A number of TF genes with increased expression in stressed root tips likely regulate root growth responses to soil water deficits, possibly as part of plant hormone signaling pathways. Ten of these TF genes respond in field-grown drought-stressed nodal root tips in a manner similar to changes observed in the laboratory demonstrating their suitability for as genetic targets for improvement of agronomically-desirable root traits. This study gives us a direct way to impact root water-deficit responses and by conventional or biotechnological approaches develop drought tolerant crops, in particular maize.

Technical Abstract: Plants tolerate water deficits by regulating gene networks controlling cellular and physiological traits to modify growth and development. Transcription factor (TFs) directed regulation of transcription within these gene networks is key to eliciting appropriate responses. In this study, reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) was used to examine the abundance of 618 transcripts from 536 TF genes in individual tissues of maize seedlings grown in vermiculite under well-watered and water-deficit conditions (-0.3 MPa and -1.6 MPa). A linear mixed model identified 433 TF transcripts representing 392 TF genes for which relative abundance was significantly different (p<0.0027) in at least one treatment, including TFs that were stress-responsive and TFs that regulate growth and development. TFs in the latter category are positioned to regulate gene networks that intersect growth and development and environmental stress responses. A number of TFs with increased relative transcript abundance in stressed root tips likely regulate root growth responses to soil water deficits, possibly as part of abscisic acid and/or auxin-dependent signaling pathways. Ten of these TFs respond in field-grown drought-stressed nodal root tips in a manner similar to changes observed in the vermiculite system demonstrating its suitability for distinguishing genetic targets for improvement of agronomically-desirable root traits.

Last Modified: 09/24/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page