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Plant Cell Environ. 2006 Dec;29(12):2143-52.

Drought stress response in wheat: physiological and molecular analysis of resistant and sensitive genotypes.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche ed Ambientali, Universit√† di Lecce, via prov. le Monteroni, Lecce, Italy.


Water deficit is a severe environmental stress and the major constraint on plant productivity with an evident effect on plant growth. The aim of this work was to study Triticum and Aegilops seedlings differing in their response to drought stress at the physiological and molecular levels. The identification of resistant and sensitive genotypes was firstly based on the relative water content (RWC) measurement. Further characterization of genotypes contrasting in their response to water stress was performed at the physiological level by determination of RWC, water loss rate (WLR) and free proline content after different hours of dehydration. Modification in the expression level of five dehydrin (DHN) genes was also analysed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Five cDNAs coding for different DHNs were identified and characterized. These genes are not expressed in the well-watered plants, but only in the stressed plants. Four of these cDNAs are related to novel DHN sequences. The results obtained clearly indicate a relation between the expression of these genes and tissue water content. In particular, in the resistant genotypes the expression of DHN genes is initiated even though tissue hydration levels are still high, indicating also in wheat the involvement of these proteins in water retention.

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