Drought and heat stress highly affect yield in wheat and other crops around
the world. Thus, genes that respond to these stresses are important in
developing plants that can withstand such environments. In a gene expression
study by researchers from China Agricultural University, the gene TaPEPKR2
from the wheat variety TAM107 is found to be responsive to heat and drought
stress and can be found in chromosome number 5B of wheat.
In a subsequent study, the same group of researchers transferred the gene
into another wheat cultivar Liaochun10 and into Arabidopsis via
Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation. This step was done to further
determine the gene's function in wheat and dicots. Through thermotolerance
assay, ion leakage assay, and dehydration tolerance assay, the researchers
determined response of the transformed plants to heat and drought stress.
Results showed higher expression of the gene in stressed plants than normal
plants. Heat and drought tolerance are also enhanced in both wheat and
Arabidopsis in the presence of the gene. The researchers concluded that
TaPEPKR2 may have a role in the regulation of abscisic acid signalling and
heat shock proteins during stressed conditions.