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Transcription-associated metabolomic adjustments in maize occur during combined drought and cold stress

  Qianqian Guo, Xia Li, Li Niu, Paula E Jameson, Wenbin Zhou

  Plant Physiology,   IF: 6.902

  Published: 04 February 2021

  https://doi.org/10.1093/plphys/kiab050

  https://academic.oup.com/plphys/advance-article/doi/10.1093/plphys/kiab050/6128687

  Abstract

  Although simultaneous drought and cold stress occurs, especially in northwestern and eastern regions of China, and is an important factor limiting agricultural productivity, there are few studies focusing on plant responses to a combination of drought and cold stress. Here, by partially overlapping drought and cold stresses, we characterized the acclimation of maize (Zea mays B73) to these two stresses using physiological measurements, as well as comparative transcriptomics combined with metabolomics and hormonal analyses during the stress treatments and recovery stages. The combined drought and cold stress and drought stress alone were accompanied by a decline in photosynthetic capacity and enhanced transcriptional response, and subsequent recovery of these following removal from stress, whereas cold stress alone was accompanied by irreversible damage to photosynthetic capacity and chloroplast structure. The stress combination induced transcription-associated metabolomic alterations, in which raffinose, trehalose-6-phosphate, and proline accumulated, and monosaccharide abundance increased. Concomitantly, the increased abscisic acid (ABA) content and upregulated ABA signaling pathway may have provided the transcriptional regulation for the metabolic changes. In a parallel experiment, ABA treatments prior to exposure of the plants to cold stress primed the plants to survive the cold stress, thus confirming a key role for the endogenous ABA activated by the drought pretreatment in acclimation of the plants to cold. We present a model showing that the plant response to the combined stress is multi-faceted and reveal an ABA-dependent maize acclimation mechanism to the stress combination.

  



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