Gene regulation in response to drought in the plant genera Panicum and Quercus

  • Droughts impair plant growth, limit global net primary production and are predicted to increase in the course of climate change. Knowledge of the plant drought response on a molecular level can facilitate the selection of drought resistant genotypes and genetic engineering and thereby can help to implement strategies, such as assisted migration projects or crop improvement, in order to preserve natural and agricultural vegetation against droughts. Studies on gene expression under drought stress were conducted in three species each of the genera Quercus and Panicum, to shed light on the molecular drought response in these species and identify drought responsive genes as a basis for technical applications. In the genus Quercus, gene expression studies were conducted in the three major European forest trees Q. ilex, Q. pubescens and Q. robur, for which a distributional shift caused by climate change is predicted for the 21st century. RNA-Seq experiments were conducted in the three Quercus species for the first time, ortholog groups were assigned and unregulated genes, as well as drought responsive genes, were identified (Madritsch et al. 2019). For a set of the unregulated genes, a stable expression over the course of long-term drought periods was evaluated in order to enable an application as reference genes for normalizing qRT-PCR experiments (Kotrade 2019a). The reference genes were used in subsequent experiments to generate gene expression profiles over the course of a two-year drought experiment with consecutive drought periods for a set of twelve drought responsive genes and revealed a highly variable gene regulation under long-term drought stress in the Quercus species (Kotrade et al. 2019b). In the genus Panicum, the gene expression in response to drought was examined in the two wild crop species, P. laetum and P. turgidum, and in the less drought tolerant species P. bisulcatum via RNA-Seq experiments (Kotrade et al. 2020 (in revision). The transcriptomes of the species were sequenced for the first time, ortholog groups were assigned and the gene regulation was compared across the species. The common grounds of the drought response in Panicum were determined by identifying similarities across the species, while the identification of differences between the species led to genes that might contribute to the higher drought tolerance of P. laetum and P. turgidum A comparison across the two genera showed large differences in the gene regulation upon drought. This might be largely explained by different experimental setups that resulted in different drought conditions in the genera, such as drought intensity, drought duration and velocity of drought development. The sequence information and the drought responsive genes identified in the Quercus and Panicum species can be used to develop marker assays for marker-assisted selection. The genes that putatively contribute to the higher drought tolerance of the two wild crop Panicum species should be considered as candidate targets in genetic engineering studies. Marker-assisted selection and genetic engineering can be applied, for example, in assisted migration projects to support natural vegetation in the course of climate change or to breed more drought tolerant crop strains to mitigate crop failure rates caused by droughts.

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Author:Jan Peter Kotrade
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Wolfgang Brüggemann, Imke SchmittORCiDGND
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2022/04/28
Year of first Publication:2020
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Release Date:2022/04/28
Page Number:139
Last Page:133
Institutes:Biowissenschaften / Biowissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Licence (German):License LogoArchivex. zur Lesesaalplatznutzung § 52b UrhG