Conserved regulation of desiccation tolerance in seeds and resurrection plants

Desiccation-tolerance (DT) is rare in vegetative tissues of adult flowering plants, whereas it is almost a rule in seeds. It has been the focus of many studies, but there is still a lack in the knowledge concerning genetic traits conserved between orthodox seeds and resurrection plants. Much progress in this direction has been made and some conserved traits have been detected. However, more molecular aspects linking seeds and resurrection plants need to be revealed to formulate hypotheses about common regulatory principles. Additional evidence is needed to substantiate the evolutional correlation between desiccation stress in seeds and the origin of resurrection plants during angiosperm evolution and diversification. To bring some light to this field, we will use transcriptomics tools to select relevant (clusters of) genes, and resolve the role of some selected genes and proteins in conferring DT to desiccation-sensitive tissues and understand the mechanisms by which seeds and other organs respond to internal and external signals. For this, we intend to mine for functional homologs of transcription factors (TFs) related to desiccation-tolerance/-sensitivity conserved between Arabidopsis thaliana, Medicago truncatula, Xerophyta viscosa and Sesbania virgata. The knowledge generated may be used in the development of crops that are more tolerant to water deficits without yield reduction.