Nitric oxide (NO) is a key messenger in plant stress responses but its exact role in drought response remains unclear. To investigate the role of NO in drought response we employed transgenic barley plants (UHb) overexpressing the barley non-symbiotic hemoglobin gene HvHb1 that oxidizes NO to NO3-. Reduced NO production under drought conditions in UHb plants was associated with increased drought tolerance. Since NO biosynthesis has been related to polyamine metabolism, we investigated whether the observed drought-related NO changes could involve polyamine pathway. UHb plants showed increases in total polyamines and in particular polyamines such as spermidine. These increases correlated with the accumulation of the amino acid precursors of polyamines and with the expression of specific polyamine biosynthesis genes. This suggests a potential interplay between NO and polyamine biosynthesis during drought response. Since ethylene has been linked to NO signaling and it is also related to polyamine metabolism, we explored this connection. In vivo ethylene measurement showed that UHb plants significantly decrease ethylene production and expression of aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid synthase gene, the first committed step in ethylene biosynthesis compared with wild type. These data suggest a NO-ethylene influenced regulatory node in polyamine biosynthesis linked to drought tolerance/susceptibility in barley.
- plant physiology