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Overexpression of an ABA biosynthesis gene using a stress-inducible promoter enhances drought resistance in petunia


The response of plants to drought stress includes reduced transpiration as stomates close in response to increased abscisic acid (ABA) concentrations. Constitutive overexpression of 9-cis-epoxycarotenoid dioxygenase (NCED), a key enzyme in ABA biosynthesis, increases drought resistance, but causes negative pleiotropic effects on plant growth and development. We overexpressed the tomato NCED (LeNCED1) in petunia plants under the control of a stress-inducible promoter, rd29A. Under water stress, the transgenic plants had increased transcripts of NCED mRNA, elevated leaf ABA concentrations, increased concentrations of proline, and a significant increase in drought resistance. The transgenic plants also displayed the expected decreases in stomatal conductance, transpiration, and photosynthesis. After 14 days without water, the control plants were dead, but the transgenic plants, though wilted, recovered fully when re-watered. Well-watered transgenic plants grew like non-transformed control plants and there was no effect of the transgene on seed dormancy.

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