3 years ago

Overexpression of a predominantly root-expressed NAC transcription factor in wheat roots enhances root length, biomass and drought tolerance

C. Lynne McIntyre, Gang-Ping Xue, Dandan Chen, Shoucheng Chai

Abstract

Key message

TaRNAC1 is a constitutively and predominantly root-expressed NAC transcription factor. TaRNAC1 overexpression in wheat roots confers increased root length, biomass and drought tolerance and improved grain yield under water limitation.

Abstract

A large and deep root system is an important trait for yield sustainability of dryland cereal crops in drought-prone environments. This study investigated the role of a predominantly root-expressed NAC transcription factor from wheat (TaRNAC1) in the root growth. Expression analysis showed that TaRNAC1 was a constitutively expressed gene with high level expression in the roots and was not drought-upregulated. Overexpression of TaRNAC1 in wheat using a predominantly root-expressed promoter resulted in increased root length and biomass observed at the early growth stage and a marked increase in the maturity root biomass with dry root weight of > 70% higher than that of the wild type plants. Analysis of some root growth-related genes revealed that the expression level of GA3-ox2, which encodes GIBBERELLIN 3-OXIDASE catalysing the conversion of inactive gibberellin (GA) to active GA, was elevated in the roots of transgenic wheat. TaRNAC1 overexpressing transgenic wheat showed more dehydration tolerance under polyethylene glycol (PEG) treatment and produced more aboveground biomass and grain under water-limited conditions than the wild type plants. These data suggest that TaRNAC1 may play a role in root growth and be used as a molecular tool for potential enlargement of root system in wheat.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00299-017-2224-y

DOI: 10.1007/s00299-017-2224-y

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