Natural variation of wheat cuticular waxes in relation to drought tolerance

  • H. Bi
  • N. V. Kovalchuk
  • D. Dias
  • U. Roessner
  • P. Langridge
  • S. Lopato
  • N. V. Borisjuk


Aims. The aim of our research is to investigate the role of wheat leaf cuticle in drought and heat protection by characterizing natural variability of cuticle components and revealing genetic and biochemical background of this variability in Australian wheat varieties. Methods. Cultivars with different levels of drought tolerance were analyzed for cuticle wax composition by gas chromatography (GC-MS) and for cuticle structure properties by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Results. Metabolomics analyses demonstrated significant quantitative differences between drought-sensitive and drought-tolerant cultivars in several types of wax components. These data are complemented by differences in cuticle structure revealed by SEM. Ten wheat genes potentially involved in regulation of cuticle biosynthesis have been cloned and analysed for expression profiles in wheat by RT-qPCT. Conclusions. Acquired data are currently being used for identification of enzymes and genes responsible for drought-related cuticular components.

Keywords: wheat, drought tolerance, cuticle waxes, gene expression.