Special Issue "Gene Expression Regulation during Drought and Salt Stress in Crop Plants"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 August 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Andrew Eamens

Centre for Plant Science, School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, 2308, Australia
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The world population is expanding more rapidly than ever before; however, the area of arable land either available to, or remaining useable for, cropping agriculture is decreasing at an alarming rate. Further, our ability to continue to improve total crop yield via the use of traditional methods is also hastily-approaching transition from the once impressive exponential phase to plateauing out in the stationary phase of the production curve for global crop yield.

Two closely-linked abiotic stresses, drought and salt stress, are of increasing concern for modern agriculture to continue to achieve annual improvements to total crop yield and therefore, meet our food security target. A tremendous volume of research effort has been spent in recent years by the plant biology research community to; (1) advance our current understand of the mechanisms employed by plants to mount an adaptive response to drought or salt stress, and; (2) translate research findings made in experimental model plant species into the major crop species, including rice, wheat, maize, barley and soybean, to provide tolerance to these two stresses.

Much of the knowledge gained, or the research translated into crops species to date, has focused on the regulation of the expression genes that encode the protein products key to the biochemical or physiological pathways responsible for providing tolerance to drought or salt stress. We also now know that the regulation of gene expression is far more complex than previously thought, with the ‘central dogma’ of molecular genetics, that is; from DNA template, to RNA intermediate, to protein product, being challenged on an increasingly frequent basis.

This Special Issue of Agronomy, titled “Gene Expression Regulation during Drought and Salt Stress in Crop Plants” will focus on the recent advances made by the plant biology research community on the complexity of the regulation of expression key genes involved in a crop plant’s response to drought or salt stress. We, therefore, warmly welcome novel research findings, review articles and opinion pieces covering the broad, yet related areas of; epigenetics (including chromatin modification and DNA methylation); genetic diversity (including natural variation); alterations to transcription factor expression; small RNA-directed RNA silencing (including the microRNA and small-interfering RNA species), and; the use of a transgene-based approach to molecularly manipulate gene expression in crop species to provide tolerance to either drought or salt stress (including the in planta application of the new sequence-specific nuclease toolkit for targeted mutagenesis).

Dr. Andrew Eamens
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Stress tolerance
  • Genetic diversity
  • Natural variation
  • Transcription factors
  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • microRNAs
  • small-interfering RNAs
  • Sequence-specific nucleases
  • in planta molecular manipulation.

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Chitosan-PVA and Copper Nanoparticles Improve Growth and Overexpress the SOD and JA Genes in Tomato Plants under Salt Stress
Agronomy 2018, 8(9), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8090175
Received: 3 August 2018 / Revised: 22 August 2018 / Accepted: 6 September 2018 / Published: 8 September 2018
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Abstract
Saline stress severely affects the growth and productivity of plants. The activation of hormonal signaling cascades and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in response to salt stress are important for cellular detoxification. Jasmonic acid (JA) and the enzyme SOD (superoxide dismutase), are well recognized
[...] Read more.
Saline stress severely affects the growth and productivity of plants. The activation of hormonal signaling cascades and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in response to salt stress are important for cellular detoxification. Jasmonic acid (JA) and the enzyme SOD (superoxide dismutase), are well recognized markers of salt stress in plants. In this study, the application of chitosan-polyvinyl alcohol hydrogels (Cs-PVA) and copper nanoparticles (Cu NPs) on the growth and expression of defense genes in tomato plants under salt stress was evaluated. Our results demonstrate that Cs-PVA and Cs-PVA + Cu NPs enhance plant growth and also promote the expression of JA and SOD genes in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.), under salt stress. We propose that Cs-PVA and Cs-PVA + Cu NPs mitigate saline stress through the regulation of oxidative and ionic stress. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Assessing Field Prunus Genotypes for Drought Responsive Potential by Carbon Isotope Discrimination and Promoter Analysis
Received: 27 February 2018 / Revised: 2 April 2018 / Accepted: 4 April 2018 / Published: 5 April 2018
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Abstract
In order to improve the effectiveness of breeding practices for Prunus rootstocks, it is essential to obtain new resistance resources, especially with regard to drought. In this study, a collection of field-grown Prunus genotypes, both wild-relative species and cultivated hybrid rootstocks, were subjected
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In order to improve the effectiveness of breeding practices for Prunus rootstocks, it is essential to obtain new resistance resources, especially with regard to drought. In this study, a collection of field-grown Prunus genotypes, both wild-relative species and cultivated hybrid rootstocks, were subjected to leaf ash and carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C) analyses, which are strongly correlated to water use efficiency (WUE). Almond and peach wild relative species showed the lowest Δ13C ratios, and therefore, the highest WUE in comparison with hybrid genotypes. In addition, drought-related cis-regulatory elements (CREs) were identified in the promoter regions of the effector gene PpDhn2, and the transcription factor gene DREB2B, two genes involved in drought-response signaling pathways. The phylogenetic analysis of these regions revealed variability in the promoter region sequences of both genes. This finding provides evidence of genetic diversity between the peach- and almond-relative individuals. The results presented here can be used to select Prunus genotypes with the best drought resistance potential for breeding. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Plant Desiccation Tolerance and its Regulation in the Foliage of Resurrection “Flowering-Plant” Species
Agronomy 2018, 8(8), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8080146
Received: 29 June 2018 / Revised: 7 August 2018 / Accepted: 9 August 2018 / Published: 14 August 2018
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Abstract
The majority of flowering-plant species can survive complete air-dryness in their seed and/or pollen. Relatively few species (‘resurrection plants’) express this desiccation tolerance in their foliage. Knowledge of the regulation of desiccation tolerance in resurrection plant foliage is reviewed. Elucidation of the regulatory
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The majority of flowering-plant species can survive complete air-dryness in their seed and/or pollen. Relatively few species (‘resurrection plants’) express this desiccation tolerance in their foliage. Knowledge of the regulation of desiccation tolerance in resurrection plant foliage is reviewed. Elucidation of the regulatory mechanism in resurrection grasses may lead to identification of genes that can improve stress tolerance and yield of major crop species. Well-hydrated leaves of resurrection plants are desiccation-sensitive and the leaves become desiccation tolerant as they are drying. Such drought-induction of desiccation tolerance involves changes in gene-expression causing extensive changes in the complement of proteins and the transition to a highly-stable quiescent state lasting months to years. These changes in gene-expression are regulated by several interacting phytohormones, of which drought-induced abscisic acid (ABA) is particularly important in some species. Treatment with only ABA induces desiccation tolerance in vegetative tissue of Borya constricta Churchill. and Craterostigma plantagineum Hochstetter. but not in the resurrection grass Sporobolus stapfianus Gandoger. Suppression of drought-induced senescence is also important for survival of drying. Further research is needed on the triggering of the induction of desiccation tolerance, on the transition between phases of protein synthesis and on the role of the phytohormone, strigolactone and other potential xylem-messengers during drying and rehydration. Full article
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Open AccessReview Profiling of the Differential Abundance of Drought and Salt Stress-Responsive MicroRNAs Across Grass Crop and Genetic Model Plant Species
Agronomy 2018, 8(7), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8070118
Received: 21 May 2018 / Revised: 6 July 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 13 July 2018
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Abstract
In recent years, it has become readily accepted among interdisciplinary agriculturalists that the current global crop yield to land capability ratio is significantly insufficient to achieve food security for the predicted population of 9.5 billion individuals by the year 2050. This issue is
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In recent years, it has become readily accepted among interdisciplinary agriculturalists that the current global crop yield to land capability ratio is significantly insufficient to achieve food security for the predicted population of 9.5 billion individuals by the year 2050. This issue is further compounded by the: (1) food versus biofuel debate; (2) decreasing availability of arable land; (3) required reductions to the extensive and ongoing environmental damage caused by either poor agricultural practices or agriculture expansion, and; (4) increasingly unfavorable (duration and severity) crop cultivation conditions that accompany man-made climate change, driven by ever-expanding urbanization and its associated industrial practices. Mounting studies are repeatedly highlighting the critical importance of linking genotypes to agronomically beneficial phenotypes and/or using a molecular approach to help address this global crisis, as “simply” clearing the remaining natural ecosystems of the globe for the cultivation of additional, non-modified crops is not efficient, nor is this practice sustainable. The majority of global food crop production is sourced from a small number of members of the Poaceae family of grasses, namely; maize (Zea mays L.), wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and rice (Oryza sativa L.). It is, therefore, of significant concern that all three of these Poaceae grass species are susceptible to a range of abiotic stresses, including drought and salt stress. Highly conserved among monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plant species, microRNAs (miRNAs) are now well-established master regulators of gene expression, influencing all aspects of plant development, mediating defense responses against pathogens and adaptation to environmental stress. Here we investigate the variation in the abundance profiles of six known abiotic stress-responsive miRNAs, following exposure to salt and drought stress across these three key Poaceae grass crop species as well as to compare these profiles to those obtained from the well-established genetic model plant species, Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. Additionally, we outline the variables that are the most likely primary contributors to instances of differential miRNA abundance across the assessed species following drought or salt stress exposure, specifically; (1) identifying variations in the experimental conditions and/or methodology used to assess miRNA abundance, and; (2) the distribution of regulatory transcription factor binding sites within the putative promoter region of a MICRORNA (MIR) gene that encodes the highly conserved, stress-responsive miRNA. We also discuss the emerging role that non-conserved, species-specific miRNAs play in mediating a plant’s response to drought or salt stress. Full article
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