By Meghan Bialt-DeCelie ’19
With the changing environment due to Global Climate Change, sustaining renewable resources such as crops is more important than ever. The changing climate affects the frequency of droughts and high salinity in fertile lands. These issues motivated researchers to investigate methods of increasing plant resistance to these stresses.
Researchers from the Texas A&M Research Center, led by Dr. Qin, were able to improve salt and drought resistance in model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana by overexpressing Drought induced lncRNA (long non-coding RN), DRIR. As the name suggests, lncRNA is a long sequence of RNA that does not code for protein. DRIR does not directly produce stress-related proteins, but is part of a signaling pathway that does. Researchers found that the expression of DRIR is increased in response to drought, high salinity, and presence of plant hormone Abscisic Acid (ABA), which is produced by plants in drought and salt conditions.
The researchers were also able to show that a mutant with higher DRIR expression than wild type plants called drir had a stronger resistance to drought and salt stress. They also analyzed the gene expression levels in the drir mutant and plants with DRIR overexpression. They found that several genes involved in ABA signaling and drought and salt resistance were up and down regulated in the mutant and DRIR overexpressed plants. This suggests that the mechanism of DRIR in controlling drought resistance in plants involves regulating gene expression.
- T. Qin, et al., A nucleus-localized long non-coding RNA enhances drought and salt stress tolerance. Plant Physiology 2, 746–757 (2017). doi:10.1104/pp.17.00574.
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