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Newly-Discovered Wheat Genes Up-Regulated by Heat and Drought
Rampino, P., Mita, G., Fasano, P., Borrelli, G.M., Aprile, A., Dalessandro, G., De Bellis, L. and Perrotta, C. 2012. Novel durum wheat genes up-regulated in response to a combination of heat and drought stress. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 56: 72-78.

The authors write that "plants are challenged by various abiotic stresses such as cold, high temperatures, high salinity, drought, etc.," which are "responsible for the extensive curtailing of crop productivity worldwide," citing Munns and Tester (2008) and Ahuja et al. (2010). And they add that "high temperatures and water deficits are two of the main environmental factors causing severe yield loss," citing Wahid et al. (2007) and Fleury et al. (2010).

What was done
In an effort designed to determine the potential for breeding crop varieties that are best equipped to cope with the combination of high temperature and a scarcity of water - which compounded catastrophic scenario is predicted by climate alarmists to become ever more common as the air's CO2 content continues to rise - Rampino et al. studied the modulation of gene expression in durum wheat (Triticum turgidum subsp. durum) plants that were classified as being able to acquire thermotolerance and drought tolerance, which investigation they conducted by means of cDNA-AFLP performed on RNAs extracted from flag leaves of plants sown in pots and grown in controlled environment chambers.

What was learned
The work of the researchers allowed them to identify genes specifically involved in wheat response to combined stress, which finding clearly showed, as they describe it, that "the effect of combined stress on wheat plants is different from that of heat or drought stress applied individually," in accordance with (1) "data already reported by other authors on different plant species (Mittler, 2006)," and indicative of the fact that (2) "combined stress also activates a pool of genes that are not induced by each single stress."

What it means
Rampino et al. conclude their paper by saying that their findings "not only add new information to the broad picture of plant stress activated genes, but can also be considered the starting point for future analysis of gene expression in crop plants subjected to stresses," while adding, most importantly, that "the functional characterization of these genes will provide new data that could help the developing of breeding strategies aimed at improving durum wheat tolerance to field stress," especially stress of the type that is predicted to be at our doorstep by the world's climate alarmists.

Ahuja, R.C.H., de Vos, A.M., Bones, R.D. and Hall, R.D. 2010. Plant molecular stress responses face climate change. Trends in Plant Science 15: 664-674.

Fleury, D., Jefferies, S., Kuchel, H. and Langridge, P. 2010. Genetic and genomic tools to improve drought tolerance in wheat. Journal of Experimental Botany 61: 3211-3222.

Mittler, R. 2006. Abiotic stress, the field environment and stress combination. Trends in Plant Science 11: 15-19.

Munns, R. and Tester, R.M. 2008. Mechanisms of salinity tolerance. Annual Review of Plant Biology 59: 651-681.

Wahid, A., Gelani, S., Ashraf, M. and Foolad, M.R. 2007. Heat tolerance in plants: an overview. Environmental and Experimental Botany 61: 199-223.

Reviewed 10 October 2012