A plant's oxygen supply can vary from normal (normoxia) to total depletion (anoxia). Tolerance to anoxia is relevant to wetland species, rice (Oryza sativa) cultivation, and submergence tolerance of crops. Decoding and transmitting calcium (Ca) signals may be an important component to anoxia tolerance; however, the contribution of intracellular Ca transporters to this process is poorly understood. Four functional cation/proton exchangers (CAX1-4) in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) help regulate Ca homeostasis around the vacuole. Our results demonstrate that cax1 mutants are more tolerant to both anoxic conditions and submergence. Using phenotypic measurements, RNA-sequencing, and proteomic approaches, we identified cax1-mediated anoxia changes that phenocopy changes present in anoxia-tolerant crops: altered metabolic processes, diminished reactive oxygen species production post anoxia, and altered hormone signaling. Comparing wild-type and cax1 expressing genetically encoded Ca indicators demonstrated altered cytosolic Ca signals in cax1 during reoxygenation. Anoxia-induced Ca signals around the plant vacuole are involved in the control of numerous signaling events related to adaptation to low oxygen stress. This work suggests that cax1 anoxia response pathway could be engineered to circumvent the adverse effects of flooding that impair production agriculture.
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