Understanding whole-plant water relations through a pheno-geno-functional approach

Prof. Pei Xu (China Jiliang University)

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Water relations are one the most difficult traits to phenotype due to the complex properties of soils, rapidly changing soil/atmosphere water status and the interaction of drought with other stress factors. We recently developed a general framework combining functional physiological phenotyping and functional mapping to bridge the phenotype-genotype gap. More recently, we employed a physio-functional approach to study the whole-plant water relations and the underlying molecular mechanisms in soybean and cowpea, a water profligate and conservative legume crop, respectively. Continuous transpiration rate monitoring demonstrated that cowpea used water more conservatively under earlier drought stages, but tended to maintain higher transpiration under prolonged drought. Interestingly, we observed a soybean-specific transpiration rate increase accompanied by phase shift under mild drought. Transcriptomic analysis suggested a dehydration avoidance mechanism of cowpea, in which the VuHAI3 and VuTIP2;3 genes were suggested to be involved. Drought also differently affected clock gene expressions between species in a drought scenario-dependent manner, which in turn differentially perturbated rhythm of downstream genes. Gene network analysis identified a pair of negatively-correlated modules between species. Module hub genes, including the ABA-degrading gene GmCYP707A4 and the trehalose-phosphatase/synthase gene VuTPS9 were identified. Functional analyses verified VuTPS9 as regulating transpiration and thus likely water use behaviors. These findings enable the drawing of a comprehensive picture of the mechanisms underlying the profligate versus conservative water use strategies in legumes.

This research was performed on the Plantarray phenotyping platform: https://www.plant-ditech.com/products/plantarray

Speaker Information

Prof. Pei Xu (China Jiliang University)

Pei Xu received his PhD from Nanjing Agricultural University in 2008. In 2010 and 2012, he worked as a visiting scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and UC-Riverside, respectively.

Currently he is a Professor and Dean of the College of Life Sciences, China Jiliang University in Hangzhou, leading the Lab of Plant Phenomics and Safety & Quality Traits Improvement.

Web: https://cls.cjlu.edu.cn/info/1004/2444.htm


Five selected publications:

Pandey AK, Jiang LB, Moshelion M*, Gosa SC, Sun T, Lin Q, Wu RL*, Xu P* (2021) Functional physiological phenotyping with functional mapping: a general framework to bridge the phenotype-genotype gap in plant physiology. iScience. 24:s102846.

Li YW, Wu XY, Xu WZ, Sun YD, Wang YD, Li GJ, Xu P* (2021) High-throughput physiology-based stress response phenotyping: advantages, applications and perspective in horticultural plants. Hort Plant J. 7 (3): 181-187.

Xu P*, Wang Y, Sun F, Wu R*, Du H, Wang Y, Jiang L, Wu X, Wu X, Yang L, Xing N, Hu Y, Wang B, Huang Y, Tao Y, Gao Q, Liang C, Li Y, Lu Z, Li G* (2021) Long-read genome assembly and genetic architecture of fruit shape in the bottle gourd. Plant J. 107:956-968.

Li G, Wu X, Hu Y, Muñoz-Amatriaín M, Luo J, Zhou W, Wang B, Wang Y, Wu X, Huang L, Lu Z, Xu P* (2019) Orphan genes are involved in drought adaptations and ecoclimatic-oriented selections in domesticated cowpea. J Exp Bot. 70: 3101-3110.

Xu P*, Wu X, Muñoz-Amatriaín M, Wang B, Wu X, Hu Y, Huynh BL, Close TJ, Roberts PA, Zhou W, Lu Z, Li G (2017) Genomic regions, cellular components and gene regulatory basis underlying pod length variations in cowpea (V. unguiculata L. Walp). Plant Biotechnol J 15: 547-557