Special Issue "GMO, New Breeding Techniques and Novel Technologies for Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Crop Plants"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Crop Breeding and Genetics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (5 October 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Jose M. Mulet
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Plant Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMCP), Universitat Politècnica de València-CSIC, 46011 València, Spain
Interests: potassium transport; abiotic stress tolerance; drought tolerance; Brassica oleracea; abiotic stress physiology; plant molecular biology; ion homeostasis; science communication; GMO crops
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Rosa Porcel
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Institute for Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology (CSIC), Universitat Politècnica de València, 46011 València, Spain
Interests: abiotic stress tolerance; drought; salinity; potassium transport; arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis; science communication
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Abiotic stress is one of the major threats to agriculture and concomitantly to food production. Many crops have a narrow margin of tolerance to abiotic stress. Traditional plant breeding has been used to improve this tolerance but has a limited margin of action, circumscribed to the genetic pool within each or closely related species. Most of the advances in plant molecular biology has been performed in model plants such as Arabidopsis thaliana, but the majority of this knowledge has not been applied yet to agronomy. At the present moment, many crop genomes are available and we have new systems biology and molecular biology techniques that enable an in-depth study of the molecular basis of abiotic stress in crops, as well as the application of knowledge generated in recent years to increase agronomical yield under adverse environmental conditions and climate change. In this Special Issue we will publish recent advances in the following topics:

1) Basic knowledge of the molecular basis of abiotic stress tolerance in crop plants.
2) Systems biology approaches to study abiotic stress in crop plants.
3) Description of the molecular basis underlying the effect of natural products, biostimulants, or mycorrhization on crop adaptation or tolerance to abiotic stress.
4) Description of novel GMO crops and their performance under abiotic stress conditions.
5) Application of new breeding techniques, including CRISPR/Cas9 to increase agronomical yield under abiotic stress conditions.

Assoc. Prof. Jose M. Mulet
Dr. Rosa Porcel
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • abiotic stress
  • new breeding techniques
  • systems biology
  • crop yield
  • genetically modified organism (GMO) crops
  • molecular biology
  • salt stress
  • drought stress
  • heat stress

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Overexpression of BvHb2, a Class 2 Non-Symbiotic Hemoglobin from Sugar Beet, Confers Drought-Induced Withering Resistance and Alters Iron Content in Tomato
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1754; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111754 - 11 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 857
Abstract
Drought stress is one of the major threats to agriculture and concomitantly to food production. Tomato is one of the most important industrial crops, but its tolerance to water scarcity is very low. Traditional plant breeding has a limited margin to minimize this [...] Read more.
Drought stress is one of the major threats to agriculture and concomitantly to food production. Tomato is one of the most important industrial crops, but its tolerance to water scarcity is very low. Traditional plant breeding has a limited margin to minimize this water requirement. In order to design novel biotechnological approaches to cope with this problem, we have screened a plant cDNA library from the halotolerant crop sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.) for genes able to confer drought/osmotic stress tolerance to the yeast model system upon overexpression. We have identified the gene that encodes BvHb2, a class 2 non-symbiotic hemoglobin, which is present as a single copy in the sugar beet genome, expressed mainly in leaves and regulated by light and abiotic stress. We have evaluated its biotechnological potential in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and found that BvHb2 is able to confer drought and osmotic stress tolerance. We also generated transgenic lines of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) overexpressing BvHb2 and found that the resulting plants are more resistant to drought-induce withering. In addition, transgenic lines overexpressing BvHb2 exhibit increased levels of iron content in leaves. Here, we show that class 2 non-symbiotic plant hemoglobins are targets to generate novel biotechnological crops tolerant to abiotic stress. The fact that these proteins are conserved in plants opens the possibility for using Non-GMO approaches, such as classical breeding, molecular breeding, or novel breeding techniques to increase drought tolerance using this protein as a target. Full article
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Article
Altering Tetrapyrrole Biosynthesis by Overexpressing Ferrochelatases (Fc1 and Fc2) Improves Photosynthetic Efficiency in Transgenic Barley
Agronomy 2020, 10(9), 1370; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091370 - 11 Sep 2020
Viewed by 780
Abstract
Ferrochelatase (FC) is the terminal enzyme of heme biosynthesis. In photosynthetic organisms studied so far, there is evidence for two FC isoforms, which are encoded by two genes (FC1 and FC2). Previous studies suggest that these two genes are required for [...] Read more.
Ferrochelatase (FC) is the terminal enzyme of heme biosynthesis. In photosynthetic organisms studied so far, there is evidence for two FC isoforms, which are encoded by two genes (FC1 and FC2). Previous studies suggest that these two genes are required for the production of two physiologically distinct heme pools with only FC2-derived heme involved in photosynthesis. We characterised two FCs in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). The two HvFC isoforms share a common catalytic domain, but HvFC2 additionally contains a C-terminal chlorophyll a/b binding (CAB) domain. Both HvFCs are highly expressed in photosynthetic tissues, with HvFC1 transcripts also being abundant in non-photosynthetic tissues. To determine whether these isoforms differentially affect photosynthesis, transgenic barley ectopically overexpressing HvFC1 and HvFC2 were generated and evaluated for photosynthetic performance. In each case, transgenics exhibited improved photosynthetic rate (Asat), stomatal conductance (gs) and carboxylation efficiency (CE), showing that both FC1 and FC2 play important roles in photosynthesis. Our finding that modified FC expression can improve photosynthesis up to ~13% under controlled growth conditions now requires further research to determine if this can be translated to improved yield performance under field conditions. Full article
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Article
Barley Plants Overexpressing Ferrochelatases (HvFC1 and HvFC2) Show Improved Photosynthetic Rates and Have Reduced Photo-Oxidative Damage under Drought Stress than Non-Transgenic Controls
Agronomy 2020, 10(9), 1351; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091351 - 08 Sep 2020
Viewed by 743
Abstract
We investigated the roles of two Ferrochelatases (FCs), which encode the terminal enzyme for heme biosynthesis, in drought and oxidative stress tolerance in model cereal plant barley (Hordeum vulgare). Three independent transgenic lines ectopically overexpressing either barley FC1 or FC2 [...] Read more.
We investigated the roles of two Ferrochelatases (FCs), which encode the terminal enzyme for heme biosynthesis, in drought and oxidative stress tolerance in model cereal plant barley (Hordeum vulgare). Three independent transgenic lines ectopically overexpressing either barley FC1 or FC2 were selected and evaluated under well-watered, drought, and oxidative stress conditions. Both HvFC1 and HvFC2 overexpressing transgenics showed delayed wilting and maintained higher photosynthetic performance relative to controls, after exposure to soil dehydration. In each case, HvFC overexpression significantly upregulated the nuclear genes associated with detoxification of reactive oxygen species (ROS) upon drought stress. Overexpression of HvFCs, also suppressed photo-oxidative damage induced by the deregulated tetrapyrrole biosynthesis mutant tigrinad12. Previous studies suggest that only FC1 is implicated in stress defense responses, however, our study demonstrated that both FC1 and FC2 affect drought stress tolerance. As FC-derived free heme was proposed as a chloroplast-to-nuclear signal, heme could act as an important signal, stimulating drought responsive nuclear gene expression. This study also highlighted tetrapyrrole biosynthetic enzymes as potential targets for engineering improved crop performance, both in well-watered and water-limited environments. Full article
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Article
RNA-Binding Proteins as Targets to Improve Salt Stress Tolerance in Crops
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 250; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020250 - 08 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1168
Abstract
Salt stress drastically reduce crop productivity. In order to identify genes that could improve crop salt tolerance, we randomly expressed a cDNA library of the halotolerant sugar beet in a sodium-sensitive yeast strain. We identified six sugar beet genes coding for RNA binding [...] Read more.
Salt stress drastically reduce crop productivity. In order to identify genes that could improve crop salt tolerance, we randomly expressed a cDNA library of the halotolerant sugar beet in a sodium-sensitive yeast strain. We identified six sugar beet genes coding for RNA binding proteins (RBP) able to increase the yeast Na+-tolerance. Two of these genes, named Beta vulgaris Salt Tolerant 3 (BvSATO3) and BvU2AF35b, participate in RNA splicing. The other four BvSATO genes (BvSATO1, BvSATO2, BvSATO4 and BvSATO6) are putatively involved in other processes of RNA metabolism. BvU2AF35b improved the growth of a wild type yeast strain under salt stress, and also in mutant backgrounds with impaired splicing, thus confirming that splicing is a target of salt toxicity. To validate the yeast approach, we characterized BvSATO1 in sugar beet and Arabidopsis. BvSATO1 expression was repressed by salt treatment in sugar beet, suggesting that this gene could be a target of salt toxicity. Expression of BvSATO1 in Arabidopsis increased the plant salt tolerance. Our results suggest that not only RNA splicing, but RNA metabolic processes such as such as RNA stability or nonsense-mediated mRNA decay may also be affected by salt stress and could be biotechnological targets for crop improvement. Full article
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Article
Trichoderma parareesei Favors the Tolerance of Rapeseed (Brassica napus L.) to Salinity and Drought Due to a Chorismate Mutase
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010118 - 13 Jan 2020
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 1406
Abstract
Both drought and salinity represent the greatest plant abiotic stresses in crops. Increasing plant tolerance against these environmental conditions must be a key strategy in the development of future agriculture. The genus of Trichoderma filament fungi includes several species widely used as biocontrol [...] Read more.
Both drought and salinity represent the greatest plant abiotic stresses in crops. Increasing plant tolerance against these environmental conditions must be a key strategy in the development of future agriculture. The genus of Trichoderma filament fungi includes several species widely used as biocontrol agents for plant diseases but also some with the ability to increase plant tolerance against abiotic stresses. In this sense, using the species T. parareesei and T. harzianum, we have verified the differences between the two after their application in rapeseed (Brassica napus) root inoculation, with T. parareesei being a more efficient alternative to increase rapeseed productivity under drought or salinity conditions. In addition, we have determined the role that T. parareesei chorismate mutase plays in its ability to promote tolerance to salinity and drought in plants by increasing the expression of genes related to the hormonal pathways of abscisic acid (ABA) under drought stress, and ethylene (ET) under salt stress. Full article
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Review

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Review
The Importance of Ion Homeostasis and Nutrient Status in Seed Development and Germination
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 504; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040504 - 02 Apr 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1067
Abstract
Seed is the dissemination unit of plants initiating an important stage in the life cycle of plants. Seed development, comprising two phases: embryogenesis and seed maturation, may define the quality of sown seed, especially under abiotic stress. In this review we have focused [...] Read more.
Seed is the dissemination unit of plants initiating an important stage in the life cycle of plants. Seed development, comprising two phases: embryogenesis and seed maturation, may define the quality of sown seed, especially under abiotic stress. In this review we have focused on the recent advances in the molecular mechanisms underlying these complex processes and how they are controlled by distinct environmental factors regulating ion homeostasis into the seed tissues. The role of transporters affecting seed embryogenesis and first stages of germination as imbibition and subsequent radicle protrusion and extension were revised from a molecular point of view. Seed formation depends on the loading of nutrients from the maternal seed coat to the filial endosperm, a process of which the efflux is not clear and where different ions and transporters are involved. The clear interrelation between soil nutrients, presence of heavy metals and the ion capacity of penetration through the seed are discussed in terms of ion effect during different germination stages. Results concerning seed priming techniques used in the improvement of seed vigor and radicle emergence are shown, where the use of nutrients as a novel way of osmopriming to alleviate abiotic stress effects and improve seedlings yield is discussed. Novel approaches to know the re-translocation from source leaves to developing seeds are considered, as an essential mechanism to understand the biofortification process of certain grains in order to cope with nutrient deficiencies, especially in arid and semiarid areas. Finally, the role of new genes involved in hormone-dependent processes, oxidative response and water uptake into the seeds during their development or germination, have been described as plant mechanisms to deal with abiotic stresses. Full article
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