Expression profiling of Nuclear Factor-Y (NF-Y) transcription factors during dehydration and salt stress in finger millet reveals potential candidate genes for multiple stress tolerance.

Rani V, Rana S, Muthamilarasan M, Joshi DC, Yadav D

Published: 28 April 2024 in Planta
Keywords: Dehydration stress, Finger millet, Nuclear Factor-Y, Salinity stress, Transcription factor
Pubmed ID: 38679693
DOI: 10.1007/s00425-024-04417-y

Expression profiling of NF-Y transcription factors during dehydration and salt stress in finger millet genotypes contrastingly differing in tolerance levels identifies candidate genes for further characterization and functional studies. The Nuclear Factor-Y (NF-Y) transcription factors are known for imparting abiotic stress tolerance in different plant species. However, there is no information on the role of this transcription factor family in naturally drought-tolerant crop finger millet (Eleusine coracana L.). Therefore, interpretation of expression profiles against drought and salinity stress may provide valuable insights into specific and/or overlapping expression patterns of Eleusine coracana Nuclear Factor-Y (EcNF-Y) genes. Given this, we identified 59 NF-Y (18 NF-YA, 23 NF-YB, and 18 NF-YC) encoding genes and designated them EcNF-Y genes. Expression profiling of these genes was performed in two finger millet genotypes, PES400 (dehydration and salt stress tolerant) and VR708 (dehydration and salt stress sensitive), subjected to PEG-induced dehydration and salt (NaCl) stresses at different time intervals (0, 6, and 12 h). The qRT-PCR expression analysis reveals that the six EcNF-Y genes namely EcNF-YA1, EcNF-YA5, EcNF-YA16, EcNF-YB6, EcNF-YB10, and EcNF-YC2 might be associated with tolerance to both dehydration and salinity stress in early stress condition (6 h), suggesting the involvement of these genes in multiple stress responses in tolerant genotype. In contrast, the transcript abundance of finger millet EcNF-YA5 genes was also observed in the sensitive genotype VR708 under late stress conditions (12 h) of both dehydration and salinity stress. Therefore, the EcNF-YA5 gene might be important for adaptation to salinity and dehydration stress in sensitive finger millet genotypes. Therefore, this gene could be considered as a susceptibility determinant, which can be edited to impart tolerance. The phylogenetic analyses revealed that finger millet NF-Y genes share strong evolutionary and functional relationship to NF-Ys governing response to abiotic stresses in rice, sorghum, maize, and wheat. This is the first report of expression profiling of EcNF-Ys genes identified from the finger millet genome and reveals potential candidate for enhancing dehydration and salt tolerance.