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MdMYB88 and MdMYB124 Enhance Drought Tolerance by Modulating Root Vessels and Cell Walls in Apple

Dali Geng, Pengxiang Chen, Xiaoxia Shen, Yi Zhang, Xuewei Li, Lijuan Jiang, Yinpeng Xie, Chundong Niu, Jing Zhang, Xiaohua Huang, Fengwang Ma, Qingmei Guan.

Plant Physiology

DOI:10.1104/pp.18.00502

 

 

Abstract: Water deficit is one of the main limiting factors in apple ( Malus x domestica Borkh.) cultivation. Root architecture plays an important role in the drought tolerance of plants; however, research efforts to improve drought tolerance of apple trees have focused on aboveground targets. Due to the difficulties associated with visualization and data analysis, there is currently a poor understanding of the genetic players and molecular mechanisms involved in the root architecture of apple trees under drought conditions. We previously observed that MdMYB88 and its paralogue MdMYB124 regulate apple tree root morphology. In this study, we found that MdMYB88 and MdMYB124 play important roles in maintaining root hydraulic conductivity under long-term drought conditions and therefore contribute towards adaptive drought tolerance. Further investigation revealed that MdMYB88 and MdMYB124 regulate root xylem development by directly binding MdVND6 and MdMYB46 promoters and thus influence expression of their target genes under drought conditions. In addition, MdMYB88 and MdMYB124 were shown to regulate the deposition of cellulose and lignin root cell walls in response to drought. Taken together, our results provide novel insights into the importance of MdMYB88 and MdMYB124 in root architecture, root xylem development, and secondary cell wall deposition in response to drought in apple trees.