Dissection of Drought Responses in Arabidopsis
Plants as sessile organisms are susceptible to many environmental stresses such as drought, and salinity. They have therefore evolved mechanisms to acclimate and tolerate environmental stresses. Knowledge of the molecular aspects of abiotic stress gleaned from extensive studies in Arabidopsis has provided much information on the complex processes underlying plant response to abiotic stresses. Nevertheless, there is a need for integration of the knowledge gained and a systematic molecular genetic dissection of the complex responses to abiotic stress. In this study in Arabidopsis, comparative expression profiling analysis of progressive (pDr) and moderate (mDr) drought treatments revealed common drought responses, as well as treatment specific signatures responses to drought stress. Under prolonged moderate drought plants develop different mechanisms for acclimation: induction of cell wall loosening at early stage, and a change in hormonal balance (ABA: JA) at late stage of moderate drought. Taking a reverse genetics approach, a MYB transcription factor (MYB109) has been identified as a regulator of growth under drought and salt stress. Global expression profiling showed possible mechanisms of how MYB109 modulates growth under drought conditions: as a regulator of RNA processing and splicing and as a negative regulator of jasmonic acid biosynthesis and signaling. A forward genetics screen for drought and salt tolerance of transposon activation tag (ATag) lines led to the discovery of novel genes, which shed light on unexplored areas of abiotic stress biology. Utilizing this strategy, a potential role for cell wall modification and MATE transporters in response to drought and salt stress has been discovered, which needs further analysis to integrate this information on the role of these biological processes in plant stress biology.