Drought tolerance in Arabidopsis is controlled by the OCP3 disease resistance regulator


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Water scarcity and corresponding abiotic drought stress is one of the most important factors limiting plant performance and yield. In addition, plant productivity is severely compromised worldwide by infection with microbial pathogens. Two of the most prominent pathways responsible for drought tolerance and disease resistance to fungal pathogens in Arabidopsis are those controlled by the phytohormones abscisic acid (ABA) and the oxylipin methyl jasmonate (MeJA), respectively. Here, we report on the functional characterization of OCP3, a transcriptional regulator from the homeodomain (HD) family. The Arabidopsis loss-of-function ocp3 mutant exhibits both drought resistance and enhanced disease resistance to necrotrophic fungal pathogens. Double-mutant analysis revealed that these two resistance phenotypes have different genetic requirements. Whereas drought tolerance in ocp3 is ABA-dependent but MeJA-independent, the opposite holds true for the enhanced disease resistance characteristics. These observations lead us to propose a regulatory role of OCP3 in the adaptive responses to these two stresses, functioning as a modulator of independent and specific aspects of the ABA- and MeJA-mediated signal transduction pathways.