Crop Biotech Update

Gene Expression of Maize Genes in Developing Kernels under Drought Stress

December 17, 2010

Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring toxin released by many types of fungi. In the US southeastern Coast Plain, preharvest aflatoxin occurence is caused and worsened by abiotic stresses such as drought and high temperature. Meng Luo and colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences conducted a study to monitor the gene expression of maturing kernels under drought conditions and identify genes involved in drought response. They used the Tex 6 maize line in the study. One group of plants with developing kernels were exposed to drought and another group were under well-watered conditions. Gene expression was analyzed using a molecular biology laboratory technique called oligo-microarray from the 25th to 45th days after pollination, with five days interval.

Results showed that there were 9,573 gene elements  unique to stressed samples, and 7,988 were common to drought and well-watered samples. Expression patterns of genes involved in stress-response pathways were positively responsive to drought. A number of defense-related genes exhibited a decrease in the quantity of cell component, while others increased at the later stages of kernel development.

Read the abstract of this study at