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Plant Mol Biol. 2007 Sep;65(1-2):125-36. Epub 2007 Jul 6.

Constitutively wilted 1, a member of the rice YUCCA gene family, is required for maintaining water homeostasis and an appropriate root to shoot ratio.

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National Research Laboratory of Plant Functional Genomics, Division of Molecular and Life Sciences, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, Korea.


Increasing its root to shoot ratio is a plant strategy for restoring water homeostasis in response to the long-term imposition of mild water stress. In addition to its important role in diverse fundamental processes, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) is involved in root growth and development. Recent extensive characterizations of the YUCCA gene family in Arabidopsis and rice have elucidated that member's function in a tryptophan-dependent IAA biosynthetic pathway. Through forward- and reverse-genetics screening, we have isolated Tos17 and T-DNA insertional rice mutants in a CONSTITUTIVELY WILTED1 (COW1) gene, which encodes a new member of the YUCCA protein family. Homozygous plants with either a Tos17 or T-DNA-inserted allele of OsCOW1 exhibit phenotypes of rolled leaves, reduced leaf widths, and lower root to shoot ratios. These phenotypes are evident in seedlings as early as 7-10 d after germination, and remain until maturity. When oscow1 seedlings are grown under low-intensity light and high relative humidity, the rolled-leaf phenotype is greatly alleviated. For comparison, in such conditions, the transpiration rate for WT leaves decreases approx. 5- to 10-fold, implying that this mutant trait results from wilting rather than being a morphogenic defect. Furthermore, a lower turgor potential and transpiration rate in their mature leaves indicates that oscow1 plants are water-deficient, due to insufficient water uptake that possibly stems from that diminished root to shoot ratio. Thus, our observations suggest that OsCOW1-mediated IAA biosynthesis plays an important role in maintaining root to shoot ratios and, in turn, affects water homeostasis in rice.

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