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Stress-induced expression of IPT gene in transgenic wheat reduces grain yield penalty under drought.



The heterologous expression of isopentenyl transferase (IPT) under the transcriptional control of the senescence-associated receptor-like kinase (SARK) promoter delayed cellular senescence and, through it, increased drought tolerance in plants. To evaluate the effect of pSARK::IPT expression in bread wheat, six independent transgenic events were obtained through the biolistic method and evaluated transgene expression, phenology, grain yield and physiological biomass components in plants grown under both drought and well-irrigating conditions. Experiments were performed at different levels: (i) pots and (ii) microplots inside a biosafety greenhouse, as well as under (iii) field conditions.


Two transgenic events, called TR1 and TR4, outperformed the wild-type control under drought conditions. Transgenic plants showed higher yield under both greenhouse and field conditions, which was positively correlated to grain number (given by more spikes and grains per spike) than wild type. Interestingly, this yield advantage of the transgenic events was observed under both drought and well-watered conditions.


The results obtained allow us to conclude that the SARK promoter-regulated expression of the IPT gene in bread wheat not only reduced the yield penalty produced by water stress but also led to improved productivity under well-watered conditions.

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