Gene expression associated with drought tolerance in Xerophyta viscosa Baker

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Herophyta viscosa (Baker) is a monocytyledonous resurrection plant that can tolerate extremes of dessication. Upon rewatering, it rehydrates completely and assumes its full physiological activities. Studies on changes in gene expression associated with dehydration stress tolerance were conducted. A cDNA library constructed from m RNA isolated from dehydrated (85%, 37% and 5% relative water content) X. viscosa leaves, was differently screened. Of the 192 randomly selected cDNAs screened, 30 showed higher expression levels when X. viscosa was dehydrated while 20 showed lower expession. XVLEA, XVDH and XVLEC represent three cDNAs that were upregulated during dehydration stress. XVLEA showed the highest identity at the amino acid level with a late embryogenesis abundant protein, LEA29G, from Gossipium hirsutum (30%) and LEA D-29 from cotton (50%). XVDH exhibited significant identity to dehydrin proteins from Arabidopsis thaliana (45%) and Pisum sativum (43%) at the amino acid level. It encodes a glycine-rich protein (27kDa) which is largely hydrophilic and contains a hydrophobic segment at the C-terminus. XVLEC showed 28% identity and 50% similarity to a lectin-like protein from Arabidopsis thaliana. Southern blot analysis confirmed the presence of the three cDNAs in the X.viscosa genome. Both XVLEA and XVDH transcripts were highly expressed during dehydration- (37% RWC) and rehydration (4%, 32%, 72% RWC) treatment of the plant ͌ 1.0kb was observed. However, with XVDH a transcript of ͌ 1.0 kb and 1.09 kb were observed. XVDH transcripts accumulated in X. viscosa plants in response to low temperature, heat and dehydration stresses, as well as to exogenous supply of abscisic acid, ethylene and methyl jasmonate. Localization studies of the XVDH encoded protein showed that XVDH is located in the plasma membrane-cell wall region.

Bibliography: leaves 89-100.