Salt stress and senescence: identification of cross-talk regulatory components

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Abstract

Leaf senescence is an active process with a pivotal impact on plant productivity. It results from extensive signalling cross-talk coordinating environmental factors with intrinsic age-related mechanisms. Although many studies have shown that leaf senescence is affected by a range of external parameters, knowledge about the regulatory systems that govern the interplay between developmental programmes and environmental stress is still vague. Salinity is one of the most important environmental stresses that promote leaf senescence and thus affect crop yield. Improving salt tolerance by avoiding or delaying senescence under stress will therefore play an important role in maintaining high agricultural productivity. Experimental evidence suggests that hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) functions as a common signalling molecule in both developmental and salt-induced leaf senescence. In this study, microarray-based gene expression profiling onArabidopsis thalianaplants subjected to long-term salinity stress to induce leaf senescence was performed, together with co-expression network analysis for H2O2-responsive genes that are mutually up-regulated by salt induced- and developmental leaf senescence. Promoter analysis of tightly co-expressed genes led to the identification of sevencis-regulatory motifs, three of which were known previously, namely CACGTGT and AAGTCAA, which are associated with reactive oxygen species (ROS)-responsive genes, and CCGCGT, described as a stress-responsive regulatory motif, while the others, namely ACGCGGT, AGCMGNC, GMCACGT, and TCSTYGACG were not characterized previously. These motifs are proposed to be novel elements involved in the H2O2-mediated control of gene expression during salinity stress-triggered and developmental senescence, acting through upstream transcription factors that bind to these sites.

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