Transcriptomic analysis of grain filling in rice inferior grains under moderate soil drying

Guan Qun Wang, Hao Xuan Li, Lei Feng, Mo Xian Chen, Shuan Meng, Neng Hui Ye*, Jianhua Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Moderate soil drying imposed at the post-anthesis stage significantly increases starch accumulation in inferior grains of rice, but how this process is regulated at the level of gene expression remains unclear. In this study, we applied moderate drying (MD) treatments to the soil at the post-anthesis stage and followed the dynamics of the conversion process of soluble sugars to starch in inferior grains using RNA-seq analysis. An elevated level of ABA induced by MD was consistently associated with down-regulation of ABA8ox2, suggesting that lower expression of this gene may be responsible for the higher ABA content, potentially resulting in better filling in inferior grains. In addition, MD treatments up-regulated genes encoding five key enzymes involved sucrose-to-starch conversion and increased the activities of enzymes responsible for soluble-sugar reduction and starch accumulation in inferior grains. Differentially expressed transcription factors, including NAC, GATA, WRKY, and M-type MADS, were predicted to interact with other proteins in mediating filling of inferior grains as a response to MD. Transient expression analysis showed that NAC activated WAXY expression by binding to its promoter, indicating that NAC played a key role in starch synthesis of inferior grains under MD treatment. Our results provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms that regulate grain filling in inferior grains of rice under moderate soil drying.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1597–1611
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number5
Early online date23 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Abscisic acid
  • grain filling
  • inferior grains
  • Oryza sativa
  • RNA sequencing
  • soil drying


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