Jasmonates are plant hormones that are involved in the regulation of different aspects of plant life, wherein their functions and molecular mechanisms of action in wheat are still poorly studied. With the aim of gaining more insights into the role of jasmonic acid (JA) in wheat growth, development, and responses to environmental stresses, we have generated transgenic bread wheat plants overexpressing Arabidopsis 12-OXOPHYTODIENOATE REDUCTASE 3 (AtOPR3), one of the key genes of the JA biosynthesis pathway. Analysis of transgenic plants showed that AtOPR3 overexpression affects wheat development, including germination, growth, flowering time, senescence, and alters tolerance to environmental stresses. Transgenic wheat plants with high AtOPR3 expression levels have increased basal levels of JA, and up-regulated expression of ALLENE OXIDE SYNTHASE, a jasmonate biosynthesis pathway gene that is known to be regulated by a positive feedback loop that maintains and boosts JA levels. Transgenic wheat plants with high AtOPR3 expression levels are characterized by delayed germination, slower growth, late flowering and senescence, and improved tolerance to short-term freezing. The work demonstrates that genetic modification of the jasmonate pathway is a suitable tool for the modulation of developmental traits and stress responses in wheat.
Keywords: 12-oxophytodienoate reductase; freezing tolerance; jasmonates; transgenic wheat.