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Root-specific expression of chickpea cytokinin oxidase/dehydrogenase 6 leads to enhanced root growth, drought tolerance and yield without compromising nodulation.


ABSTRACT: Cytokinin group of phytohormones regulate root elongation and branching during post-embryonic development. Cytokinin-degrading enzymes cytokinin oxidases/dehydrogenases (CKXs) have been deployed to investigate biological activities of cytokinin and to engineer root growth. We expressed chickpea cytokinin oxidase 6 (CaCKX6) under the control of a chickpea root-specific promoter of CaWRKY31 in Arabidopsis thaliana and chickpea having determinate and indeterminate growth patterns, respectively, to study the effect of cytokinin depletion on root growth and drought tolerance. Root-specific expression of CaCKX6 led to a significant increase in lateral root number and root biomass in Arabidopsis and chickpea without any penalty to vegetative and reproductive growth of shoot. Transgenic chickpea lines showed increased CKX activity in root. Soil-grown advanced chickpea transgenic lines exhibited higher root-to-shoot biomass ratio and enhanced long-term drought tolerance. These chickpea lines were not compromised in root nodulation and nitrogen fixation. The seed yield in some lines was up to 25% higher with no penalty in protein content. Transgenic chickpea seeds possessed higher levels of zinc, iron, potassium and copper. Our results demonstrated the potential of cytokinin level manipulation in increasing lateral root number and root biomass for agronomic trait improvement in an edible legume crop with indeterminate growth habit.

SUBMITTER: Khandal H 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7589355 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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