drought tolerance
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christopher Baker ◽  
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Climate change is globally affecting rainfall patterns, necessitating the improvement of drought tolerance in crops. Sorghum bicolor is a drought-tolerant cereal capable of producing high yields under water scarcity conditions. Functional stay-green sorghum genotypes can maintain green leaf area and efficient grain filling in terminal post-flowering water deprivation, a period of ~10 weeks. To obtain molecular insights into these characteristics, two drought-tolerant genotypes, BTx642 and RTx430, were grown in control and terminal post-flowering drought field plots in the Central Valley of California. Photosynthetic, photoprotective, water dynamics, and biomass traits were quantified and correlated with metabolomic data collected from leaves, stems, and roots at multiple timepoints during drought. Physiological and metabolomic data was then compared to longitudinal RNA sequencing data collected from these two genotypes. The metabolic response to drought highlights the uniqueness of the post-flowering drought acclimation relative to pre-flowering drought. The functional stay-green genotype BTx642 specifically induced photoprotective responses in post-flowering drought supporting a putative role for photoprotection in the molecular basis of the functional stay-green trait. Specific genes are highlighted that may contribute to post-flowering drought tolerance and that can be targeted in crops to maximize yields under limited water input conditions.

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