• Open Access

Down-regulation of CBP80 gene expression as a strategy to engineer a drought-tolerant potato


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Developing new strategies for crop plants to respond to drought is crucial for their innovative breeding. The down-regulation of nuclear cap-binding proteins in Arabidopsis renders plants drought tolerant. The CBP80 gene in the potato cultivar Desiree was silenced using artificial microRNAs. Transgenic plants displayed a higher tolerance to drought, ABA-hypersensitive stomatal closing, an increase in leaf stomata and trichome density, and compact cuticle structures with a lower number of microchannels. These findings were correlated with a higher tolerance to water stress. The level of miR159 was decreased, and the levels of its target mRNAs MYB33 and MYB101 increased in the transgenic plants subjected to drought. Similar trends were observed in an Arabidopsis cbp80 mutant. The evolutionary conservation of CBP80, a gene that plays a role in the response to drought, suggests that it is a candidate for genetic manipulations that aim to obtain improved water-deficit tolerance of crop plants.