Variation in abscisic acid responsiveness of Aegilops tauschii and hexaploid wheat synthetics due to the D-genome diversity

Julio C M Iehisa, Shigeo Takumi
Genes & Genetic Systems 2012, 87 (1): 9-18
Common wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is an allohexaploid that originated from natural hybridization between tetraploid wheat (Triticum turgidum) and diploid Aegilops tauschii. Ae. tauschii is considered one of the potential sources of new genetic variation in abiotic stress tolerance for improving common wheat. Abscisic acid (ABA) plays an important role in plant adaptation to environmental stresses. In this study, ABA responsiveness of 67 Ae. tauschii accessions and their synthetic hexaploid wheat lines, derived from crosses between T. turgidum cv. Langdon and the Ae. tauschii accessions, was evaluated based on growth inhibition by 20 µM ABA. Wide variation was found in ABA responsiveness for both synthetic wheat lines and their parental Ae. tauschii accessions. The variations due to D-genome found at the diploid level were also expressed in a hexaploid genetic background. Two pairs of synthetic wheat lines differing in ABA responsiveness were then selected for gene expression analysis and to test abiotic stress tolerance, because their parental Ae. tauschii accessions similarly exhibited the differential response to ABA. Gene expression of ABA inducible transcription factor, WABI5, and the downstream Cor/Lea genes (Wrab17, Wdhn13 and Wrab18) were analysed. In one pair, the highly responsive line exhibited higher induction of Wrab17 by ABA treatment, but no significant difference in dehydration or salinity tolerance was observed between these lines. In contrast, in the second pair, the highly ABA-responsive line showed higher levels of Wdhn13 expression and dehydration and salinity tolerance. In synthetic wheat lines, the difference in the ABA responsiveness of the lines appeared to be determined by the different sets of D-genome genes. Our findings suggest that highly ABA-responsive Ae. tauschii accessions should be valuable genetic resources for improving the abiotic stress tolerance of common wheat.

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