The role of cytokinins in responses to water deficit in tobacco plants over-expressing trans-zeatin O-glucosyltransferase gene under 35S or SAG12 promoters

Marie Havlová, Petre I Dobrev, Václav Motyka, Helena Storchová, Jirí Libus, Jana Dobrá, Jirí Malbeck, Alena Gaudinová, Radomira Vanková
Plant, Cell & Environment 2008, 31 (3): 341-53
The impact of water deficit progression on cytokinin (CK), auxin and abscisic acid (ABA) levels was followed in upper, middle and lower leaves and roots of Nicotiana tabacum L. cv. Wisconsin 38 plants [wild type (WT)]. ABA content was strongly increased during drought stress, especially in upper leaves. In plants with a uniformly elevated total CK content, expressing constitutively the trans-zeatin O-glucosyltransferase gene (35S::ZOG1), a delay in the increase of ABA was observed; later on, ABA levels were comparable with those of WT. As drought progressed, the bioactive CK content in leaves gradually decreased, being maintained longer in the upper leaves of all tested genotypes. Under severe stress (11 d dehydration), a large stimulation of cytokinin oxidase/dehydrogenase (CKX) activity was monitored in lower leaves, which correlated well with the decrease in bioactive CK levels. This suggests that a gradient of bioactive CKs in favour of upper leaves is established during drought stress, which might be beneficial for the preferential protection of these leaves. During drought, significant accumulation of CKs occurred in roots, partially because of decreased CKX activity. Simultaneously, auxin increased in roots and lower leaves. This indicates that both CKs and auxin play a role in root response to severe drought, which involves the stimulation of primary root growth and branching inhibition.

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