Evolutionary flexibility in flooding response circuitry in angiosperms

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Science  20 Sep 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6459, pp. 1291-1295
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax8862

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Flood-resistance from gene regulation

Some plants tolerate flooding better than others. Reynoso et al. compared gene regulatory networks activated by flooding in rice, which is adapted to flooding, with those in species less adapted to flooding. Flood-related gene regulation was characterized according to chromatin accessibility as well as transcription. Although flood response circuitry is evident in dryland species as well, its activation is greater in wetland rice.

Science, this issue p. 1291


Flooding due to extreme weather threatens crops and ecosystems. To understand variation in gene regulatory networks activated by submergence, we conducted a high-resolution analysis of chromatin accessibility and gene expression at three scales of transcript control in four angiosperms, ranging from a dryland-adapted wild species to a wetland crop. The data define a cohort of conserved submergence-activated genes with signatures of overlapping cis regulation by four transcription factor families. Syntenic genes are more highly expressed than nonsyntenic genes, yet both can have the cis motifs and chromatin accessibility associated with submergence up-regulation. Whereas the flexible circuitry spans the eudicot-monocot divide, the frequency of specific cis motifs, extent of chromatin accessibility, and degree of submergence activation are more prevalent in the wetland crop and may have adaptive importance.

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