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Crop Biotech Update

Gene Improves Heat and Drought Tolerance in Wheat and Arabidopsis

November 28, 2018

Drought and heat stress highly affect yield in wheat and other crops around the world. Thus, genes that respond to these stresses are important in developing plants that can withstand such environments. In a gene expression study by researchers from China Agricultural University, the gene TaPEPKR2 from the wheat variety TAM107 is found to be responsive to heat and drought stress and can be found in chromosome number 5B of wheat.

In a subsequent study, the same group of researchers transferred the gene into another wheat cultivar Liaochun10 and into Arabidopsis via Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation. This step was done to further determine the gene's function in wheat and dicots. Through thermotolerance assay, ion leakage assay, and dehydration tolerance assay, the researchers determined response of the transformed plants to heat and drought stress. Results showed higher expression of the gene in stressed plants than normal plants. Heat and drought tolerance are also enhanced in both wheat and Arabidopsis in the presence of the gene. The researchers concluded that TaPEPKR2 may have a role in the regulation of abscisic acid signalling and heat shock proteins during stressed conditions.

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