Analysis of gene expression and physiological responses in three Mexican maize landraces under drought stress and recovery irrigation

Corina Hayano-Kanashiro, Carlos Calderón-Vásquez, Enrique Ibarra-Laclette, Luis Herrera-Estrella, June Simpson

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154 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Drought is one of the major constraints for plant productivity worldwide. Different mechanisms of drought-tolerance have been reported for several plant species including maize. However, the differences in global gene expression between drought-tolerant and susceptible genotypes and their relationship to physiological adaptations to drought are largely unknown. The study of the differences in global gene expression between tolerant and susceptible genotypes could provide important information to design more efficient breeding programs to produce maize varieties better adapted to water limiting conditions. Methodology/Principal Findings: Changes in physiological responses and gene expression patterns were studied under drought stress and recovery in three Mexican maize landraces which included two drought tolerant (Cajete criollo and Michoacán 21) and one susceptible (85-2) genotypes. Photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, soil and leaf water potentials were monitored throughout the experiment and microarray analysis was carried out on transcripts obtained at 10 and 17 days following application of stress and after recovery irrigation. The two tolerant genotypes show more drastic changes in global gene expression which correlate with different physiological mechanisms of adaptation to drought. Differences in the kinetics and number of up- and down-regulated genes were observed between the tolerant and susceptible maize genotypes, as well as differences between the two tolerant genotypes. Interestingly, the most dramatic differences between the tolerant and susceptible genotypes were observed during recovery irrigation, suggesting that the tolerant genotypes activate mechanisms that allow more efficient recovery after a severe drought. Conclusions/Significance: A correlation between levels of photosynthesis and transcription under stress was observed and differences in the number, type and expression levels of transcription factor families were also identified under drought and recovery between the three maize landraces. Gene expression analysis suggests that the drought tolerant landraces have a greater capacity to rapidly modulate more genes under drought and recovery in comparison to the susceptible landrace. Modulation of a greater number of differentially expressed genes of different TF gene families is an important characteristic of the tolerant genotypes. Finally, important differences were also noted between the tolerant landraces that underlie different mechanisms of achieving tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere7531
JournalPloS one
Volume4
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 30 2009

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