Water use efficiency in the drought-stressed sorghum and maize in relation to expression of aquaporin genes
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Zea mays L. is less tolerant to drought than Sorghum bicolor L. In the present study, we investigated the response of both plants to drought stress applied under field conditions by withholding water for 10 d. The plant growth in terms of shoot fresh and dry masses was more severely reduced in maize than in sorghum, consistently with reduction of leaf relative water content. Gas exchange was also more inhibited by drought in maize than in sorghum. The water use efficiency (WUE) of maize fluctuated during the day and in response to the drought stress. In contrast, sorghum was able to maintain a largely constant WUE during the day in the well-watered plants as well as in the stressed ones. Studying the expression of four aquaporin genes (PIP1;5, PIP1;6, PIP2;3, and TIP1;2) revealed that PIP1;5 in leaves and PIP2;3 in roots were highly responsive to drought in sorghum but not in maize, where they might have supported a greater water transport. The expression pattern of PIP1;6 suggests its possible role in CO2 transport in control but not droughty leaves of both the plants. TIP1;2 seemed to contribute to water transport in leaves of the control but not droughty plants. We conclude that PIP1;5 and PIP2;3 may have a prominent role in drought tolerance and maintenance of WUE in sorghum plants.
Additional key wordsgas exchange plasma membrane intrinsic proteins relative water content Sorghum bicolor tonoplast intrinsic proteins Zea mays
crassulacean acid metabolism
sub-stomatal CO2 concentration
field capacity of soil
net photosynthetic rate
reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction
relative water content
water use efficiency
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