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A Genetic Pathway Composed of EDT1/HDG11, ERECTA, and E2Fa Loci Regulates Water Use Efficiency by Modulating Stomatal Density

By Xiao-Yu Guo, Yao Wang, Ping Xu, Guo-Hua Yu, Li-Yong Zhang, Yan Xiong, Cheng-Bin Xiang

Posted 12 Dec 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/232801

Improvement of crop drought resistance and water use efficiency (WUE) has been a major endeavor in agriculture. ERECTA is the first identified major effector of water use efficiency. However, the underlying molecular mechanism is not well understood. Here, we report a genetic pathway, composed of EDT1/HDG11, ERECTA, and E2Fa loci, which regulates water use efficiency by modulating stomatal density. The HD-START transcription factor EDT1/HDG11 transcriptionally activates ERECTA expression by binding to an HD cis-element in the ERECTA promoter. ERECTA in turn relies on E2Fa to control the expression of cell-cycle related genes and the transition from mitosis to endocycle, which leads to increased nuclear DNA content in leaf cells, and therefore increased cell size and decreased stomatal density. The decreased stomatal density improves plant WUE. Our study demonstrates the EDT1/HDG11-ERECTA-E2Fa genetic pathway that reduces stomatal density by increasing cell size, providing a new avenue to improve WUE of crops.

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