Whole transcriptome analysis of transgenic barley with altered cytokinin homeostasis and increased tolerance to drought stress
•Whole transcriptome study of barley transgenic genotypes.•Photosynthetic parameters estimated during drought stress and re-watering.•Differentially regulated genes in transgenic plants during re-watering after drought stress.•Higher stress tolerance due to attenuation of sensing through HvHK3 receptor.•Genes implicated in cytokinin cross-talk with other phytohormones.
Cytokinin plant hormones have been shown to play an important role in plant response to abiotic stresses. Herein, we expand upon the findings of Pospíšilová et al.  regarding preparation of novel transgenic barley lines overexpressing cytokinin dehydrogenase 1 gene from Arabidopsis under the control of mild root-specific promotor of maize β-glycosidase. These lines showed drought-tolerant phenotype mainly due to alteration of root architecture and stronger lignification of root tissue. A detailed transcriptomic analysis of roots of transgenic plants subjected to revitalization after drought stress revealed attenuated response through the HvHK3 cytokinin receptor and up-regulation of two transcription factors implicated in stress responses and abscisic acid sensitivity. Increased expression of several genes involved in the phenylpropanoid pathway as well as of genes encoding arogenate dehydratase/lyase participating in phenylalanine synthesis was found in roots during revitalization. Although more precursors of lignin synthesis were present in roots after drought stress, final lignin accumulation did not change compared to that in plants grown under optimal conditions. Changes in transcriptome indicated a higher auxin turnover in transgenic roots. The same analysis in leaves revealed that genes encoding putative enzymes responsible for production of jasmonates and other volatile compounds were up-regulated. Although transgenic barley leaves showed lower chlorophyll content and down-regulation of genes encoding proteins involved in photosynthesis than did wild-type plants when cultivated under optimal conditions, they did show a tendency to return to initial photochemical activities faster than did wild-type leaves when re-watered after severe drought stress. In contrast to optimal conditions, comparative transcriptomic analysis of revitalized leaves displayed up-regulation of genes encoding enzymes and proteins involved in photosynthesis, and especially those encoded by the chloroplast genome. Taken together, our results indicate that the partial cytokinin insensitivity induced in barley overexpressing cytokinin dehydrogenase contributes to tolerance to drought stress.
Journal: New Biotechnology - Volume 33, Issue 5, Part B, 25 September 2016, Pages 676–691