Daily heliotropic movements assist gas exchange and productive responses in DREB1A soybean plants under drought stress in the greenhouse
Drought stress is one of the most severe environmental constraints on plant production. Under environmental pressures, complex daily heliotropic adjustments of leaflet angles in soybean can help to reduce transpiration losses by diminishing light interception (paraheliotropism), increase diurnal carbon gain in sparse canopies and reduce carbon gain in dense canopies by solar tracking (diaheliotropism). The plant materials studied were cultivar BR 16 and its genetically engineered isoline P58, ectopically overexpressing AtDREB1A, which is involved in abiotic stress responses. We aimed to follow the movements of central and lateral leaflets in vegetative stages V7–V10 and reproductive stages R4–R5, integrating the reversible morphogenetic changes into an estimate of daily plant photosynthesis using three‐dimensional modeling, and to analyze the production parameters of BR 16 and P58. The patterns of daily movements of central leaflets of BR 16 in V7–V10 and R4–R5 were similar, expressing fewer diaheliotropic movements under drought stress than under non‐limiting water conditions. Daily heliotropic patterns of lateral leaflets in V7–V10 and R4–R5 showed more diaheliotropic movements in drought‐stressed P58 plants than in those grown under non‐limiting water conditions. Leaf area in R4–R5 was generally higher in P58 than in BR 16. Drought significantly affected gas exchange and vegetative and reproductive architectural features. DREB1A could be involved in various responses to drought stress. Compared with the parental BR 16, P58 copes with drought through better compensation between diaheliotropic and paraheliotropic movements, finer tuning of water‐use efficiency, a lower transpiration rate, higher leaf area and higher pod abortion to accomplish the maximum possible grain production under continued drought conditions.
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