Project Summaries

10-709  Project Manager: D. C. Jones

INVESTIGATING THE ROLE OF ABA-RESPONSIVE TRANSCRIPTION FACTORS IN THE REGULATION OF COTTON DROUGHT STRESS TOLERANCE

Randy D. Allen, Oklahoma State University

Given increasing demand and diminishing resources, development of genetic strategies for the improvement of abiotic stress tolerance in agricultural crops is an important goal.  Therefore the focus of this project is to characterize the function of various stress responsive genes and their regulatory pathways in cotton. Preliminary results of heterologous expression of Arabidopsis genes in cotton indicate that this approach can lead to dramatic improvements in stress tolerance, however, these plants exhibited unfavorable side effects, including delayed flowering and reduced yield. The expression of endogenous genes in cotton may better integrate into the complex stress response regulatory pathways of cotton plants, and thereby provide improved stress tolerance while minimizing unwanted side effects.

Over the last three years, significant progress has been made in the characterization of three families of genes in cotton involved in abiotic stress response, including the ABFs, CBFs, and SnRK2s. The ABFs and CBFs are best known for their roles in drought and temperature response, respectively, and the SnRK2s are regulators of the activation of the ABFs. The first years of this project were dominated by the isolation and sequencing of the coding sequences and promoter regions of each of these genes and the determination of changes in expression in response to various stressors. While portions of these analyses are still ongoing, these results laid the foundation for subsequent, more recent steps including promoter screening for cis-acting elements and the development of transgenic Arabidopsis to test the functionality of these cotton genes in vivo. Successful modification of these stress responsive regulatory pathways in cotton may lead to the development of cotton varieties that are capable of maintaining yields under stressful conditions and reduce the need for external resources, such as irrigation, thereby reducing production costs and supporting the sustainability of our agricultural systems.

 

Project Year: 2012
 

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