Rice ONAC106 Inhibits Leaf Senescence and Increases Salt Tolerance and Tiller Angle

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NAM/ATAF1/ATAF2/CUC2 (NAC) is a plant-specific transcription factor (TF) family, and NACs participate in many diverse processes during the plant life cycle. Several Arabidopsis thaliana NACs have important roles in positively or negatively regulating leaf senescence, but in other plant species, including rice, the senescence-associated NACs (senNACs) remain largely unknown. Here we show that the rice senNAC TF ONAC106 negatively regulates leaf senescence. Leaves of onac106-1D (insertion of the 35S enhancer in the promoter region of the ONAC106 gene) mutants retained their green color under natural senescence and dark-induced senescence conditions. Genome-wide transcriptome analysis revealed that key senescence-associated genes (SGR, NYC1, OsNAC5, OsNAP, OsEIN3 and OsS3H) were differentially expressed in onac106-1D during dark-induced senescence. In addition to delayed senescence, onac106-1D also showed a salt stress-tolerant phenotype; key genes that down-regulate salt response signaling (OsNAC5, OsDREB2A, OsLEA3 and OsbZIP23) were rapidly up-regulated in onac106-1D under salt stress. Interestingly, onac106-1D also exhibited a wide tiller angle phenotype throughout development, and the tiller angle-related gene LPA1 was down-regulated in onac106-1D. Using yeast one-hybrid assays, we found that ONAC106 binds to the promoter regions of SGR, NYC1, OsNAC5 and LPA1. Taking these results together, we propose that ONAC106 functions in leaf senescence, salt stress tolerance and plant architecture by modulating the expression of its target genes that function in each signaling pathway.

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