Authors: Norma Fàbregas, Fidel Lozano-Elena, David Blasco-Escámez, Takayuki Tohge, Cristina Martínez-Andújar, Alfonso Albacete, Sonia Osorio, Mariana Bustamante, José Luis Riechmann, Takahito Nomura, Takao Yokota, Ana Conesa, Francisco Pérez Alfocea, Alisdair R. Fernie & Ana I. Caño-Delgado

Institutions: 

  • Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) CSIC-IRTA-UAB-UB, 08193, Barcelona, Spain
  • Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, D-14476, Potsdam-Golm, Germany
  • Department of Plant Nutrition, CEBAS-CSIC, 30100, Murcia, Spain
  • Instituto de Hortofruticultura Subtropical y Mediterránea “La Mayora”, University of Málaga-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, 29071, Málaga, Spain
  • Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), 08010, Barcelona, Spain
  • Center for Bioscience Research and Education, Utsunomiya University, Minemachi, Utsunomiya, 321-8505, Japan
  • Department of Biosciences, Teikyo University, Toyosatodai, Utsunomiya, 320-8551, Japan
  • Microbiology and Cell Science Department, IFAS, Genetics Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32603, USA

Publication: Nature Communications

Date: November 2018

Full paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-06861-3

Abstract:

Drought represents a major threat to food security. Mechanistic data describing plant responses to drought have been studied extensively and genes conferring drought resistance have been introduced into crop plants. However, plants with enhanced drought resistance usually display lower growth, highlighting the need for strategies to uncouple drought resistance from growth. Here, we show that overexpression of BRL3, a vascular-enriched member of the brassinosteroid receptor family, can confer drought stress tolerance in Arabidopsis. Whereas loss-of-function mutations in the ubiquitously expressed BRI1 receptor leads to drought resistance at the expense of growth, overexpression of BRL3 receptor confers drought tolerance without penalizing overall growth. Systematic analyses reveal that upon drought stress, increased BRL3 triggers the accumulation of osmoprotectant metabolites including proline and sugars. Transcriptomic analysis suggests that this results from differential expression of genes in the vascular tissues. Altogether, this data suggests that manipulating BRL3 expression could be used to engineer drought tolerant crops.