Aquaporins (AQPs) are transmembrane proteins essential for controlling the flow of water and other molecules required for development and stress tolerance in plants, including important crop species such as wheat (Triticum aestivum
). In this study, we utilized a genomic approach for analyzing the information about AQPs available in public databases to characterize their structure and function. Furthermore, we validated the expression of a suite of AQP genes, at the transcriptional level, including accessions with contrasting responses to drought, different organs and water stress levels. We found 65 new AQP genes, from which 60% are copies expanded by polyploidization. Sequence analysis of the AQP genes showed that the purifying selection pressure acted on duplicate genes, which was related to a high conservation of the functions. This situation contrasted with the expression patterns observed for different organs, developmental stages or genotypes under water deficit conditions, which indicated functional divergence at transcription. Expression analyses on contrasting genotypes showed high gene transcription from Tonoplast Intrinsic Protein 1 (TIP1) and 2 (TIP2), and Plasma Membrane Intrinsic Protein 1 (PIP1) and 2 (PIP2) subfamilies in roots and from TIP1 and PIP1 subfamilies in leaves. Interestingly, during severe drought stress, 4 TIP genes analyzed in leaves of the tolerant accession reached up to 15-fold the level observed at the susceptible genotype, suggesting a positive relationship with drought tolerance. The obtained results extend our understanding of the structure and function of AQPs, particularly under water stress conditions.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited