Glycinebetaine-induced water-stress tolerance in codA-expressing transgenic indica rice is associated with up-regulation of several stress responsive genes

Hitesh Kathuria, Jitender Giri, Karaba N Nataraja, Norio Murata, Makarla Udayakumar, Akhilesh K Tyagi
Plant Biotechnology Journal 2009, 7 (6): 512-26
Rice (Oryza sativa L.), a non-accumulator of glycinebetaine (GB), is highly susceptible to abiotic stress. Transgenic rice with chloroplast-targeted choline oxidase encoded by the codA gene from Arthrobacter globiformis has been evaluated for inheritance of transgene up to R5 generation and water-stress tolerance. During seedling, vegetative and reproductive stages, transgenic plants could maintain higher activity of photosystem II and they show better physiological performance, for example, enhanced detoxification of reactive oxygen species compared to wild-type plants under water-stress. Survival rate and agronomic performance of transgenic plants is also better than wild-type following prolonged water-stress. Choline oxidase converts choline into GB and H2O2 in a single step. It is possible that H2O2/GB might activate stress response pathways and prepare transgenic plants to mitigate stress. To check this possibility, microarray-based transcriptome analysis of transgenic rice has been done. It unravelled altered expression of many genes involved in stress responses, signal transduction, gene regulation, hormone signalling and cellular metabolism. Overall, 165 genes show more than two-fold up-regulation at P-value < 0.01 in transgenic rice. Out of these, at least 50 genes are known to be involved in plant stress response. Exogenous application of H2O2 or GB to wild-type plants also induces such genes. Our data show that metabolic engineering for GB is a promising strategy for introducing stress tolerance in crop plants and which could be imparted, in part, by H2O2- and/or GB-induced stress response genes.

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