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Crop Biotech Update

TaWRKY2-Overexpression Enhances Drought Tolerance in Wheat

August 8, 2018

Drought is a major stress severely affecting plant growth and crop productivity. A previous study showed that TaWRKY2 from wheat plays an important role in drought stress tolerance. Chinese Academy of Sciences researchers led by Huiming Gao further studied the TaWRKY2 gene and its promoter.

The TaWRKY2 promoter was found to be induced by drought, salt, and heat stresses as well as abscisic acid (ABA). The team then generated TaWRKY2-overexpressing transgenic wheat, and found that these seedlings exhibited significantly enhanced tolerance to drought stress compared with wild type plants. Moreover, the transgenic lines had higher contents of free proline, soluble sugars, and chlorophyll.

During a prolonged drought stress before the heading stage, the growth of wildtype plants was inhibited, while the TaWRKY2-overexpressing lines progressed to the heading stage. The cumulative effects of drought stress resulted in increased grain yield in transgenic wheat.

TaWRKY2 was found capable of enhancing drought tolerance and increasing grain yield in wheat. The gene is a promising candidate for improving the drought tolerance of wheat cultivars.

For more information, read the article in Frontiers in Plant Science.