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Manipulating ZmEXPA4 expression ameliorates the drought-induced prolonged anthesis and silking interval in maize.


ABSTRACT: Drought poses a major environmental threat to maize (Zea mays) production worldwide. Since maize is a monoecious plant, maize grain yield is dependent on the synchronous development of male and female inflorescences. When a drought episode occurs during flowering, however, an asynchronism occurs in the anthesis and silking interval (ASI) that results in significant yield losses. The underlying mechanism responsible for this asynchronism is still unclear. Here, we obtained a comprehensive development-drought transcriptome atlas of maize ears. Genes that function in cell expansion and growth were highly repressed by drought in 50 mm ears. Notably, an association study using a natural-variation population of maize revealed a significant relationship between the level of α-expansin4 (ZmEXPA4) expression and drought-induced increases in ASI. Furthermore, genetic manipulation of ZmEXPA4 expression using a drought-inducible promoter in developing maize ears reduced the ASI under drought conditions. These findings provide important insights into the molecular mechanism underlying the increase in ASI in maize ears subjected to drought and provide a promising strategy that can be used for trait improvement.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC8290287 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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