ipa1 improves rice drought tolerance at seedling stage mainly through activating abscisic acid pathway

Plant Cell Rep. 2022 Jan;41(1):221-232. doi: 10.1007/s00299-021-02804-3. Epub 2021 Oct 25.


KEY MESSAGE: ipa1 enhances rice drought tolerance mainly through activating the ABA pathway. It endows rice seedlings with a more developed root system, smaller leaf stomata aperture, and enhanced carbon metabolism. Drought is a major abiotic stress to crop production. IPA1 (IDEAL PLANT ARCHITECTURE 1)/OsSPL14 encodes a transcription factor and has been reported to function in both rice ideal plant architecture and biotic resistance. Here, with a pair of IPA1 and ipa1-NILs (Near Iso-genic Lines), we found that ipa1 could significantly improve rice drought tolerance at seedling stage. The ipa1 plants had a better-developed root system and smaller leaf stomatal aperture. Analysis of carbon-nitrogen metabolism-associated enzyme activity, gene expression, and metabolic profile indicated that ipa1 could tip the carbon-nitrogen metabolism balance towards an increased carbon metabolism pattern. In both the control and PEG-treated conditions, ABA content in the ipa1 seedlings was significantly higher than that in the IPA1 seedlings. Expression of the ABA biosynthesis genes was detected to be up-regulated, whereas the expression of ABA catabolism genes was down-regulated in the ipa1 seedlings. In addition, based on yeast one-hybrid assay and dual-luciferase assay, IPA1 was found to directly activate the promoter activity of OsHOX12, a transcription factor promoting ABA biosynthesis, and OsNAC52, a positive regulator of the ABA pathway. The expression of OsHOX12 and OsNAC52 was significantly up-regulated in the ipa1 plants. Combined with the previous studies, our results suggested that ipa1 could improve rice seedling drought tolerance mainly through activating the ABA pathway and that regulation of the ipa1-mediated ABA pathway will be an important strategy for improving drought resistance of rice.

Keywords: Abscisic acid (ABA); Carbon–nitrogen metabolism; Drought tolerance; Rice (Oryza sativa L.); ipa1.

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / metabolism*
  • Droughts*
  • Oryza / genetics
  • Oryza / physiology*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Seedlings / genetics
  • Seedlings / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Plant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Abscisic Acid