Modulation of energy homeostasis in maize and Arabidopsis to develop lines tolerant to drought, genotoxic and oxidative stresses

Author Biographies

Elizabeth Njuguna, Ghent University VIB

  1. Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics 

  2. Center for Plant Systems Biology 

Griet Coussens, Ghent University VIB

  1. Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics 

  2. Center for Plant Systems Biology 

Stijn Aesaert, Ghent University VIB

  1. Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics 

  2. Center for Plant Systems Biology 

Piet Neyt, Ghent University VIB

  1. Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics 

  2. Center for Plant Systems Biology

Sylvester Anami, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology

  1. Institute for Biotechnology Research 

Mieke Van Lijsebettens, Ghent University VIB

  1. Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics 

  2. Center for Plant Systems Biology

Main Article Content

Elizabeth Njuguna (Ghent University VIB)

Griet Coussens (Ghent University VIB)

Stijn Aesaert (Ghent University VIB)

Piet Neyt (Ghent University VIB)

Sylvester Anami (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology)

Mieke Van Lijsebettens (Ghent University VIB)

Published Feb 1, 2018

Abstract

Abiotic stresses cause crop losses worldwide that reduce the average yield by more than 50%. Due to the high energy consumed to enhance the respiration rates, the excessive reactive oxygen species release provokes cell death and, ultimately, whole plant decay. A metabolic engineering approach in maize (Zea mays) altered the expression of two poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation metabolic pathway proteins, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and ADP-ribose-specifIc Nudix hydrolase (NUDX) genes that play a role in the maintenance of the energy homeostasis during stresses. By means of RNAi hairpin silencing and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing strategies, the PARP expression in maize was downregulated or knocked down. The Arabidopsis NUDX7 gene and its two maize homologs, ZmNUDX2 and ZmNUDX8, were overexpressed in maize and Arabidopsis. Novel phenotypes were observed, such as significant tolerance to oxidative stress and improved yield in Arabidopsis and a trend of tolerance to mild drought stress in maize and in Arabidopsis.

Key words: poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, Nudix hydrolase, CRISPR/Cas9, maize, oxidative stress, drought stress 


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