Diversity of microRNAs and genes towards development of drought tolerant wheat
Kantar, Melda (2015) Diversity of microRNAs and genes towards development of drought tolerant wheat. [Thesis]
World is threatened by global warming resulting in elevated incidence of drought, the primary cause of yield loss in wheat. Domestication of wheat species, followed by years of breeding for maximum yield, has eradicated genetic diversity in the long run and leading to the loss of valuable alleles for drought stress tolerance in today’s elite cultivars. Cellular responses to stress conditions usually involve intermingled, complex networks of gene interactions. Therefore, understanding the molecular basis of stress responses in wheat and related species is highly challenging but also, crucial. In the first project, we introgressed drought-related genomic regions to elite germplasm, providing potentially high drought tolerant bread wheat. Although the capacity of plants to tolerate drought is largely coded in their genomes, it is of equal importance to understand the efficient activation of drought response mechanisms by elaborating regulation of a complex network of gene interactions. Integral to these stress responses are, undoubtedly, microRNAs, which act as post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression. In the second project, we identified and investigated microRNAs and their target genes in wheat and related species and further characterized their responses to drought. Comparative analyses of microRNA repertoires and microRNA target functions across several wheat species indicate conserved or unique patterns of drought tolerance mechanisms. microRNA repertoires reported here will be convenient for further studies expanding our understanding of gene regulation across wheat and related species and the role of microRNAs in drought tolerance.
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