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Water Potential Markers

Development of gentic markers monitoring plant water potential

Developing the plant of the future Plant Operation Adaptation Drought Protein/proteomic Arabidopsis (species)
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In the context of a global warming, deciphering signaling pathways leading to plant adaptation to drought, water availability, and salt tolerance is a crucial question. A common crossing point of these plant stresses is that they impact water potential (Ψ), which is a thermodynamical parameter indicating the availability of water for the plant biological and biochemical processes such as turgor (P), stomatal aperture or photosynthesis.


Is very difficult to directly measure in plants, which prevents one to develop straightforward strategies to decipher gene regulatory networks (GRN) controlling it. The current project proposes to tackle this limitation by finding sentinel genes reporting rapid changes in water potential (or ΔΨ). The main objective is to develop new dynamic biosensors based on genetic markers that quantitatively indicate the drop in water potential of a plant organ or cell.


Actions planned consist in the characterization of early transcriptomes from samples of roots treated with a range of water potentials. Data will be analyzed to find genes which expression quickly and quantitatively reflects P, Ψ and/or ΔΨ.

A deep analysis of short term regulation of the turgor pressure has been performed on root cortical cells with a cell pressure probe.
This allowed us to calibrate our experimental system prior to plant treatment for RNA extraction.
A transcriptomic analysis has been performed on the samples, revealing the early (15 min) transcriptional changes upon water stress in roots.


About 500 genes are significantly regulated upon water stress imposed by various solutes (PEG, NaCl, sorbitol, EG). Among which a few show a very good correlation between expression level and solution water potential/ turgor pressure. Those will serve as a basis to develop plant water stress sensors.


Our work provide the basis to monitor early plant water stress. We now aim at developping genetic sensors to understand how crop plants perceive water stress and at deciphering what are the underlying molecular mechanisms.

Project Number : 1403-012

Year : 2014

Type of funding : AAP OS

Project type : AAP

Start date :
01 Feb 2015

End date :
30 Jun 2016

Flagship project :

Project leader :
Yann Boursiac

Project leader's institution :

Project leader's RU :

Budget allocated :
29948 €

Total budget allocated ( including co-financing) :
29948 €

Funding :