February 15, 2024
Journal Article

Tripogon loliiformis tolerates rapid desiccation after metabolic and transcriptional priming during initial drying


Crop plants and undomesticated resilient species employ different strategies to regulate their energy resources and growth. Most crop species are sensitive to stress and prioritise rapid growth to maximise yield or biomass production. In contrast, resilient plants grow slowly, are small, and allocate their resources for survival in challenging environments. One small group of plants, termed resurrection plants, survive desiccation of their vegetative tissue and regain full metabolic activity upon watering. However, the precise molecular mechanisms underlying this extreme tolerance remain unknown. In this study, we employed a transcriptomics and metabolomics approach, to investigate the mechanisms of desiccation tolerance in Tripogon loliiformis, a modified desiccation-tolerant plant, that survives gradual but not rapid drying. We show that T. loliiformis can survive rapid desiccation if it is gradually dried to 60% relative water content (RWC). Furthermore, the gene expression data showed that T. loliiformis is genetically predisposed for desiccation in the hydrated state, as evidenced by the accumulation of MYB, NAC, bZIP, WRKY transcription factors along with the phytohormones, abscisic acid, salicylic acid, amino acids (e.g., proline) and TCA cycle sugars during initial drying. Through network analysis of co-expressed genes, we observed differential responses to desiccation between T. loliiformis shoots and roots. Dehydrating shoots displayed global transcriptional changes across broad functional categories, although no enrichment was observed during drying. In contrast, dehydrating roots showed distinct network changes with the most significant differences occurring at 40% RWC. The cumulative effects of the early stress responses may indicate the minimum requirements of desiccation tolerance and enable T. loliiformis to survive rapid drying. These findings potentially hold promise for identifying biotechnological solutions aimed at developing drought-tolerant crops without growth and yield penalties.

Published: February 15, 2024


Okemo P., I. Njaci, Y. Kim, R.S. McClure, M.J. Peterson, A.S. Beliaev, and K.K. Hixson, et al. 2023. Tripogon loliiformis tolerates rapid desiccation after metabolic and transcriptional priming during initial drying. Scientific Reports 13. PNNL-SA-177979. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-47456-3

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