Ectopic expression of an Arabidopsis glutaredoxin increases thermotolerance in maize during reproductive developmental stages

dc.contributor.authorSprague, Stuart A.
dc.description.abstractDrought and heat stress are two of the biggest constraints to global food production. Abiotic stress response pathways are complex and consist of osmotic adjustors, macromolecule stabilizers, and antioxidants to counteract the damaging nature of abiotic stress induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation. In this work, we studied the effect of overexpression of an Arabidopsis glutaredoxin, AtGRXS17, on heat tolerance in maize (Zea mays L.) and drought tolerance in rice (Orzya sativa L.). Glutaredoxins (GRXs) are proteins cable of reducing disulfide bonds, therefore regulating the cellular redox status, and require glutathione for regeneration. Ectopic expression of AtGRXS17 in maize resulted in increased heat stress tolerance during flowering. AtGRXS17 enhanced heat tolerance by increasing kernel set and total grain yield during heat treatments, compared to wild type controls. Our results indicated that AtGRXS17-expressing maize plants produce heat tolerant pollen with higher germination rates than wild type when challenged during heat treatments. Furthermore, AtGRXS17-expressing plants were less susceptible to post pollination heat induced kernel abortion. Rice plants expressing AtGRXS17 were also tolerant to abiotic stress. AtGRXS17-expressing rice was more tolerant to drought stress challenges and consistently survived drought treatments. A nontargeted metabolomics study revealed distinct changes in profiles of key metabolite groups in response to drought stress. Soluble sugars and amino acids accumulate as osmotic adjustors while antioxidants, such as glutathione, accumulate to mediate ROS accumulation and regulate redox activity. All genotypes accumulated amino acids, soluble sugars, and raffinose family oligosaccharides in response to drought stress. Our results indicated AtGRXS17-expression affected several pathways known to increase drought tolerance. Altered sugar metabolites suggested a redox modulation of sucrose synthase activity and significant increases in the secondary sulfur assimilation pathway metabolites suggested altered sulfur metabolism. This research provides new insights into ability of GRXs to improve heat tolerance and crop yield in maize and functions of GRXs in affecting metabolite profiles contributing to increased drought tolerance in rice.en_US
dc.description.advisorSunghun Parken_US
dc.description.degreeDoctor of Philosophyen_US
dc.description.departmentDepartment of Horticulture and Natural Resourcesen_US
dc.subjectAbiotic stressen_US
dc.titleEctopic expression of an Arabidopsis glutaredoxin increases thermotolerance in maize during reproductive developmental stagesen_US


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