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Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00261

Parental drought-priming enhances tolerance to post-anthesis drought in offspring of wheat

 Xiulin Wang1, Xiaxiang Zhang1, Jing Chen1,  Xiao Wang1,  Jian Cai1,  Qin Zhou1,  Tingbo Dai1, Weixing Cao1 and  Dong Jiang1*
  • 1Nanjing Agricultural University, China

Drought is the major abiotic stress that decreases plant water status, inhibits photosynthesis, induces oxidative stress, restricts growth and finally lead to the reduction of wheat yield. It has been proven that drought priming during vegetative growth stage could enhance tolerance to drought stress at grain filling in wheat. However, whether drought priming imposed at grain filling in parental plants could induce drought tolerance in the offspring is not known. In this study, drought priming was successively applied in the first, the second and the third generation of wheat to obtain the plants of T1 (primed for one generation), T2 (primed for two generations), T3 (primed for three generations). The differently primed plants were then subjected to drought stress during grain filling in the fourth generation. Under drought stress, the parentally primed (T1D, T2D, T3D) plants, disregarding the number of generations, showed higher grain yield, leaf photosynthetic rate and antioxidant capacity as well as lower O2.- release rate and contents of H2O2 and MDA than the non-primed (T0D) plants, suggesting that drought priming induced the transgenerational stress tolerance to drought stress. Moreover, the parentally primed plants showed higher leaf water status, which may result from the higher contents of proline and glycine betaine, and higher activities of Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthetase (P5CS) and betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase (BADH), compared with the non-primed plants under drought stress. In addition, there was no significant difference among three generations under drought, and the drought priming in parental generations did not affect the grain yield of the offspring plants under control condition. Collectively, the enhanced accumulation of proline and glycine betaine in the parentally primed plants could have played critical roles in parental priming induced tolerance to drought stress. This research provided a potential approach to improve drought tolerance of offspring plants by priming parental plants.

Keywords: Drought priming, drought stress tolerance, Photosynthesis, osmolytes, antioxidant capacity, wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)

Received: 23 Nov 2017; Accepted: 14 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Meixue Zhou, University of Tasmania, Australia

Reviewed by:

Shabir H. Wani, Michigan State University, United States
Jianchang Yang, Yangzhou University, China  

Copyright: © 2018 Wang, Zhang, Chen, Wang, Cai, Zhou, Dai, Cao and Jiang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Dong Jiang, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China, jiangd@njau.edu.cn