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Plant science : an international journal of experimental plant biology

Induced over-expression of AtDREB2A CA improves drought tolerance in sugarcane.


PMID 24656336

Abstract

Drought is one of the most challenging agricultural issues limiting sustainable sugarcane production and, in some cases, yield losses caused by drought are nearly 50%. DREB proteins play vital regulatory roles in abiotic stress responses in plants. The transcription factor DREB2A interacts with a cis-acting DRE sequence to activate the expression of downstream genes that are involved in drought-, salt- and heat-stress response in Arabidopsis thaliana. In the present study, we evaluated the effects of stress-inducible over-expression of AtDREB2A CA on gene expression, leaf water potential (ΨL), relative water content (RWC), sucrose content and gas exchanges of sugarcane plants submitted to a four-days water deficit treatment in a rhizotron-grown root system. The plants were also phenotyped by scanning the roots and measuring morphological parameters of the shoot. The stress-inducible expression of AtDREB2A CA in transgenic sugarcane led to the up-regulation of genes involved in plant response to drought stress. The transgenic plants maintained higher RWC and ΨL over 4 days after withholding water and had higher photosynthetic rates until the 3rd day of water-deficit. Induced expression of AtDREB2A CA in sugarcane increased sucrose levels and improved bud sprouting of the transgenic plants. Our results indicate that induced expression of AtDREB2A CA in sugarcane enhanced its drought tolerance without biomass penalty.