Determining the Multiple Abiotic Stress Response Functions of the Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi NF-YB Transcription Factor

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Increased multiple abiotic stressors can impose undue stress beyond a plant's optimum existence in its environment. These stressors include extremes in temperature (chilling, freezing), water (drought, flooding/waterlogging), light intensity, nutrients (NaCl), heavy metals, and radiation (UV). With the onset of climate change, global crop production and food security are negatively amplified by these stressors. Hence, developing crop varieties with improved multiple abiotic stress tolerances emerge as the most sustainable solution towards ensuring global food security because environmental stressors often occur simultaneously (e.g., drought and heat). Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) plants are considered well-adapted to higher water use-efficiency (WUE), drought, heat, increased light and UV irradiation tolerance compared to C3 photosynthesis plants. The use of abiotic stress-responsive genes (i.e., transcription factors - TFs) from CAM plants is an ideal approach to improve crop production under adverse environmentally stressful conditions because they modulate the expression of various downstream targets related to the abiotic stress responses by binding to the upstream cis-regulatory elements of the promoters. Recent research has revealed top eight candidate TFs from the obligate CAM plant Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi including families from MYB, NF-Y, bZIP, NAC, AP2/ERF/CRF as possible regulators of abiotic stresses. Here, I focus on determining the multiple abiotic stress response functions of the Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi NF-YB3 gene, KfNF-YB3. The Arabidopsis thaliana orthologue of KfNF-Y is a heterotrimeric complex consists of three subunits as NF-YA, NF-YB, and NF-YC and it is reported each sub-unit play key role in the responses to abiotic stresses including drought, salt, cold, and heat. The results of the proposed project will provide a novel strategy for improving environmental stress resiliency in crop plants in an increasingly hotter and drier landscape.

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