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Plant Cell Physiol. 2010 Nov;51(11):1929-41. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcq143. Epub 2010 Sep 24.

Enhanced cytokinin synthesis in tobacco plants expressing PSARK::IPT prevents the degradation of photosynthetic protein complexes during drought.

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Department Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


To identify genes associated with the cytokinin-induced enhanced drought tolerance, we analyzed the transcriptome of wild-type and transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum 'SR1') plants expressing P(SARK)::IPT (for senescence-associated receptor kinase::isopentenyltransferase) grown under well-watered and prolonged water deficit conditions using the tomato GeneChip. During water deficit, the expression of genes encoding components of the carotenoid pathway leading to ABA biosynthesis was enhanced in the wild-type plants, but repressed in the transgenic plants. On the other hand, transgenic plants displayed higher transcript abundance of genes involved in the brassinosteroid biosynthetic pathways. Several genes coding for proteins associated with Chl synthesis, light reactions, the Calvin-Benson cycle and photorespiration were induced in the transgenic plants. Notably, increased transcript abundance of genes associated with PSII, the cytochrome b(6)/f complex, PSI, NADH oxidoreductase and the ATP complex was found in the P(SARK)::IPT plants. The increased transcript abundance was assessed by quantitative PCR and the increased protein levels were confirmed by Western blots. Our results indicated that while the photosynthetic apparatus in the wild-type plants was degraded, photosynthesis in the transgenic plants was not affected and photosynthetic proteins were not degraded. During water deficit, wild-type plants displayed a significant reduction in electron transfer and photochemical quenching, with a marked increase in non-photochemical quenching, suggesting a decrease in energy transfer to the PSII core complexes and an increase in cyclic electron transfer reactions.

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