Corn Genes Involved in Cold Stress Response in Young Seedlings

Jim Crocker
16th May, 2024

Corn Genes Involved in Cold Stress Response in Young Seedlings

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study from the Maize Research Institute focused on understanding how miRNAs help maize seedlings tolerate chilling stress
  • Researchers found that certain miRNAs are expressed differently in chilling-tolerant and chilling-sensitive maize lines
  • Identifying these miRNAs and their target genes provides insights into the molecular mechanisms that help maize cope with low temperatures
Understanding how to mitigate the negative effects of climate change on crop yields is crucial for global food security. Recent research from the Maize Research Institute has delved into the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in enhancing the chilling tolerance of maize seedlings, an area previously underexplored[1]. This study is particularly relevant given the importance of maize, alongside wheat, rice, and soybean, which collectively provide two-thirds of human caloric intake[2]. Climate change poses a significant threat to crop yields, with temperature increases predicted to reduce global yields of these essential crops[2]. Early sowing of maize has been suggested as a potential adaptation strategy to counteract these negative effects. However, this requires a robust understanding of how maize responds to low-temperature stress at the molecular level. miRNAs, small non-coding RNA molecules, are known to regulate gene expression and play critical roles in plant stress responses. Despite this, their specific functions in maize chilling tolerance during early seedling stages remain largely unknown. The study conducted by the Maize Research Institute aimed to bridge this gap by examining the expression patterns and functions of miRNAs in 5-day-old maize seedlings from both tolerant and sensitive inbred lines exposed to chilling stress (10/8 °C) for 6 and 24 hours. High throughput sequencing was utilized to identify and analyze the miRNAs involved. The findings revealed distinct expression patterns of miRNAs between the tolerant and sensitive maize lines when subjected to chilling stress. This differential expression suggests that certain miRNAs may contribute to the chilling tolerance observed in some maize varieties. By identifying these miRNAs and their target genes, the study provides insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying maize's response to chilling stress. Previous studies have highlighted the complex interplay between various environmental stressors and plant responses at the cellular and molecular levels. For instance, plants often exhibit similar responses to different stressors such as drought, salinity, and cold, due to overlapping signal transduction pathways[3]. The current study aligns with this understanding by revealing that miRNAs, which are also involved in responses to other stressors, play a crucial role in chilling tolerance. Moreover, the study's findings are consistent with earlier research showing that genetic factors significantly influence crop yield responses to climate change. For example, wheat has been shown to benefit from higher CO2 concentrations, leading to yield gains, whereas maize is more negatively impacted by warmer temperatures[4]. The identification of chilling-responsive miRNAs in maize provides a potential pathway for genetic improvement, which could enhance the crop's resilience to climate change. In summary, the Maize Research Institute's study offers valuable insights into the role of miRNAs in maize chilling tolerance. By elucidating the expression patterns and functions of these miRNAs, the research paves the way for developing maize varieties better adapted to early sowing and low-temperature stress. This could be a significant step towards mitigating the adverse effects of climate change on maize yields, thereby contributing to global food security.

GeneticsBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Maize miRNAs and their putative target genes involved in chilling stress response in 5-day old seedlings

Published 15th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Temperature increase reduces global yields of major crops in four independent estimates.

3) Specific and unspecific responses of plants to cold and drought stress.

Journal: Journal of biosciences, Issue: Vol 32, Issue 3, Apr 2007

4) Climate impacts on global agriculture emerge earlier in new generation of climate and crop models.

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