Crop Biotech Update

The Importance of NAC Gene Family in Developing Drought-Resistant Soybean

March 1, 2017
The NAC gene family is notable due to its large size, as well as its relevance in enhancing stress tolerance of plants. Despite the knowledge about NAC protein function, there is a need for an extensive study on the possible use of NACs in developing soybean (Glycine max) cultivars with superior drought tolerance.

Reem M. Hussain from Huazhong Agricultural University, together with his colleagues, used phylogenetic analysis and identified 139 GmNAC genes. Real-time quantitative PCR was done on leaf tissues of both sensitive and tolerant soybean cultivars to analyze the gene expression of 28 dehydration-responsive GmNAC genes. The analysis showed that GmNAC gene expression is dependent on genotype. Eight of the 28 selected genes (GmNAC004, GmNAC021, GmNAC065, GmNAC066, GmNAC073, GmNAC082, GmNAC083 and GmNAC087) were discovered to have high expression levels in the drought-resistant soybean varieties. Alternatively, the drought-sensitive cultivars exhibited lower GmNAC expression levels in comparison to their tolerant counterparts.

This study identified GmNAC genes that could be the focus in future studies in developing superior drought resistant soybean. This study also revealed more dehydration-responsive GmNAC genes than was previously reported. Moreover, the study also indicated that genotypes differ in their drought-induced gene expression.

For more information on the study, read the article in BMC Plant Biology.