Elevated cytokinin content in ipt transgenic creeping bentgrass promotes drought tolerance through regulating metabolite accumulation

Emily B. Merewitz, Hongmei Du, Wenjuan Yu, Yimin Liu, Thomas Gianfagna, Bingru Huang

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128 Scopus citations


Increased endogenous plant cytokinin (CK) content through transformation with an adenine isopentyl transferase (ipt) gene has been associated with improved plant drought tolerance. The objective of this study is to determine metabolic changes associated with elevated CK production in ipt transgenic creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) with improved drought tolerance. Null transformants (NTs) and plants transformed with ipt controlled by a stress-or senescence-activated promoter (SAG12-ipt) were exposed to well-watered conditions or drought stress by withholding irrigation in an environmental growth chamber. Physiological analysis confirmed that the SAG12-ipt line (S41) had improved drought tolerance compared with the NT plants. Specific metabolite changes over the course of drought stress and differential accumulation of metabolites in SAG12-ipt plants compared with NT plants at the same level of leaf relative water content (47% RWC) were identified using gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy. The metabolite profiling analysis detected 45 metabolites differentially accumulated in response to ipt expression or drought stress, which included amino acids, carbohydrates, organic acids, and organic alcohols. The enhanced drought tolerance of SAG12-ipt plants was associated with the maintenance of accumulation of several metabolites, particularly amino acids (proline, γ-aminobutyric acid, alanine, and glycine) carbohydrates (sucrose, fructose, maltose, and ribose), and organic acids that are mainly involved in the citric acid cycle. The accumulation of these metabolites could contribute to improved drought tolerance due to their roles in the stress response pathways such as stress signalling, osmotic adjustment, and respiration for energy production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1315-1328
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


  • Alanine
  • cytokinins
  • fructose
  • glycine
  • isopentyl transferase
  • maltose
  • metabolome
  • perennial grass
  • proline
  • ribose
  • senescence
  • senescence-activated promoter
  • sucrose
  • turfgrass
  • water stress
  • γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)


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