Physiological, Metabolic, and Transcriptional Analysis of Submergence Tolerance in Rice and Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Wheat
Alpuerto, Jasper Benedict Battad
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Flooding is a major environmental stress that damages agricultural production worldwide. Using the key regulator of submergence tolerance in rice, SUB1A, as a model, we have advanced our understanding of how plants coordinate transcriptional, hormonal, and metabolic responses to submergence. However, the contribution of SUB1A to recovery from sublethal submergence is still unknown. This study revealed SUB1A's additional role in the recovery phase: promotion of a rapid return to normal metabolic status upon desubmergence through quick recovery of photosystem II photochemistry and carbon fixation. We also investigated how SUB1A differentially regulates adaptive responses in two functionally distinct leaves, growing and mature leaves, under submergence. This study revealed that rice plants promote rapid carbohydrate and nitrogen remobilization and transport in mature leaves, supporting quick elongation growth of growing leaves. In the presence of SUB1A, these metabolic processes were suppressed in mature leaves, resulting in the avoidance of energy starvation in the source tissues. In growing leaves, SUB1A enhanced the accumulation of abscisic acid, but repressed the level of ACC, a precursor of ethylene, contributing to the restriction of elongation growth and leaf senescence in the sink tissues. Application of nitrogen fertilizers is a necessary step to maintain high grain yield in cereals, but plants absorb only 30-50% of supplied N. Wheat, one of the most widely grown crops in the world, requires a high level of nitrogen application to maintain grain yield and protein content. In this study, we investigated how nitrogen input affects the accumulation of major N and C compounds and expression of genes associated with N and C metabolism in flag leaves of wheat. We used two genotypes with distinct nitrogen use efficiencies (NUE), VA08MAS-369 and VA07W-415. VA08MAS-369 displayed higher grain yield, stover biomass, and stover N content at low N, which results from greater N-uptake efficiency in this genotype. Consistently, high N-uptake efficiency was reflected by increased mRNA accumulation of nitrate transporters and their transcriptional regulator, NAC2, in flag leaves at the post-anthesis stage. Overall, this study advanced our knowledge of the important mechanisms in plant response to flooding and N limitation in these key staple cereals.
- Doctoral Dissertations