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Characterization of the Role of SPL9 in Drought Stress Tolerance in Medicago sativa

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 1391 Sandford Street, London, ON N5V 4T3, Canada
Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond Street, London, ON N6A 3K7, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(17), 6003;
Received: 23 June 2020 / Revised: 1 August 2020 / Accepted: 17 August 2020 / Published: 20 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Stress and Plants)
Extreme environmental conditions, such as drought, are expected to increase in frequency and severity due to climate change, leading to substantial deficiencies in crop yield and quality. Medicago sativa (alfalfa) is an important crop that is relied upon as a staple source of forage in ruminant feed. Despite its economic importance, alfalfa production is constrained by abiotic stress, including drought. In this report, we investigate the role of Squamosa Promoter Binding Protein-Like 9 (SPL9), a target of miR156, in drought tolerance. Transgenic alfalfa plants with RNAi-silenced MsSPL9 (SPL9-RNAi) were compared to wild-type (WT) alfalfa for phenotypic changes and drought tolerance indicators. In SPL9-RNAi plants, both stem thickness and plant height were reduced in two- and six-month-old alfalfa, respectively; however, yield was unaffected. SPL9-RNAi plants showed less leaf senescence and had augmented relative water content under drought conditions, indicating that SPL9-RNAi plants had greater drought tolerance potential than WT plants. Interestingly, SPL9-RNAi plants accumulated more stress-alleviating anthocyanin compared to WT under both drought and well-watered control conditions, suggesting that MsSPL9 may contribute to drought tolerance in alfalfa, at least in part, by regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis. The results suggest that targeting MsSPL9 is a suitable means for improving alfalfa resilience towards drought conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: alfalfa; stress; drought; miR156; SPL9 alfalfa; stress; drought; miR156; SPL9
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hanly, A.; Karagiannis, J.; Lu, Q.S.M.; Tian, L.; Hannoufa, A. Characterization of the Role of SPL9 in Drought Stress Tolerance in Medicago sativa. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21, 6003.

AMA Style

Hanly A, Karagiannis J, Lu QSM, Tian L, Hannoufa A. Characterization of the Role of SPL9 in Drought Stress Tolerance in Medicago sativa. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2020; 21(17):6003.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hanly, Alexandria, Jim Karagiannis, Qing S.M. Lu, Lining Tian, and Abdelali Hannoufa. 2020. "Characterization of the Role of SPL9 in Drought Stress Tolerance in Medicago sativa" International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, no. 17: 6003.

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