Distinct Cellular Strategies Determine Sensitivity to Mild Drought of Arabidopsis Natural Accessions
The world-wide distribution of Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) accessions imposes different types of evolutionary pressures, which contributes to various responses of these accessions to environmental stresses. Drought stress responses have been well studied, particularly in Columbia, a common Arabidopsis accession. However, the reactions to drought stress are complex and our understanding of which of these responses contribute to the plant's tolerance to mild drought is very limited. Here,
... ery limited. Here, we studied the mechanisms by which natural accessions react to mild drought at a physiological and molecular level during early leaf development. We documented variations in mild drought tolerance among natural accessions and used transcriptome sequencing of a drought-sensitive accession, ICE163, and a drought-tolerant accession, Yeg-1, to get insights into the mechanisms underlying this tolerance. This revealed that ICE163 preferentially induces jasmonates and anthocyanin-related pathways, which are beneficial in biotic stress defense, while Yeg-1 has a more pronounced activation of abscisic acid signaling, the classical abiotic stress response. Related physiological traits, including content of proline, anthocyanins and ROS, stomatal closure and cellular leaf parameters, were investigated and linked to the transcriptional responses. We conclude that most of these processes constitute general drought response mechanisms that are regulated similarly in drought-tolerant and -sensitive accessions. However, the capacity to close stomata and maintain cell expansion under mild drought appeared to be major factors that contribute to a better leaf growth under mild drought.