Heat-stress-responsive HvHSFA2e gene regulates the heat and drought tolerance in barley through modulation of phytohormone and secondary metabolic pathways

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Plant Cell Rep. 2024 Jun 14;43(7):172. doi: 10.1007/s00299-024-03251-6.

ABSTRACT

The heat stress transcription factor HSFA2e regulates both temperature and drought response via hormonal and secondary metabolism alterations. High temperature and drought are the primary yield-limiting environmental constraints for staple food crops. Heat shock transcription factors (HSF) terminally regulate the plant abiotic stress responses to maintain growth and development under extreme environmental conditions. HSF genes of subclass A2 predominantly express under heat stress (HS) and activate the transcriptional cascade of defense-related genes. In this study, a highly heat-inducible HSF, HvHSFA2e was constitutively expressed in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) to investigate its role in abiotic stress response and plant development. Transgenic barley plants displayed enhanced heat and drought tolerance in terms of increased chlorophyll content, improved membrane stability, reduced lipid peroxidation, and less accumulation of ROS in comparison to wild-type (WT) plants. Transcriptome analysis revealed that HvHSFA2e positively regulates the expression of abiotic stress-related genes encoding HSFs, HSPs, and enzymatic antioxidants, contributing to improved stress tolerance in transgenic plants. The major genes of ABA biosynthesis pathway, flavonoid, and terpene metabolism were also upregulated in transgenics. Our findings show that HvHSFA2e-mediated upregulation of heat-responsive genes, modulation in ABA and flavonoid biosynthesis pathways enhance drought and heat stress tolerance.

PMID:38874775 | DOI:10.1007/s00299-024-03251-6