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Water‐deficit‐induced changes in transcription factor expression in maize seedlings

Candace M. Seeve, In‐Jeong Cho, Leonard B. Hearne, Gyan Prakash Srivastava, Trupti Joshi, Dante O. Smith, Robert E. Sharp, Melvin J. Oliver
Plant, cell and environment 2017 v.40 no.5 pp. 686-701
abscisic acid, corn, drought, gene regulatory networks, genes, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, root growth, root tips, seedlings, shoots, signal transduction, statistical models, stress response, tissues, transcription (genetics), transcription factors, vermiculite, water potential, water stress
Plants tolerate water deficits by regulating gene networks controlling cellular and physiological traits to modify growth and development. Transcription factor (TF)‐directed regulation of transcription within these gene networks is key to eliciting appropriate responses. In this study, reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT‐qPCR) was used to examine the abundance of 618 transcripts from 536 TF genes in individual root and shoot tissues of maize seedlings grown in vermiculite under well‐watered (water potential of −0.02 MPa) and water‐deficit conditions (water potentials of −0.3 and −1.6 MPa). A linear mixed model identified 433 TF transcripts representing 392 genes that differed significantly in abundance in at least one treatment, including TFs that intersect growth and development and environmental stress responses. TFs were extensively differentially regulated across stressed maize seedling tissues. Hierarchical clustering revealed TFs with stress‐induced increased abundance in primary root tips that likely regulate root growth responses to water deficits, possibly as part of abscisic acid and/or auxin‐dependent signaling pathways. Ten of these TFs were selected for validation in nodal root tips of drought‐stressed field‐grown plants (late V1 to early V2 stage). Changes in abundance of these TF transcripts under a field drought were similar to those observed in the seedling system.