Physiological and Proteomic Responses of Rice Peduncles to Drought Stress


Panicle exsertion, an essential physiological process for obtaining high grain yield in rice is mainly driven by peduncle (uppermost internode) elongation. Drought at heading/panicle emergence prevented peduncle elongation from reaching its maximum length even after re-watering. This inhibitory effect of drought resulted in delayed heading and trapping spikelets lower down the panicle inside the flag-leaf sheath, thus increasing sterility in the lower un-exserted spikelets and also among the upper superior spikelets whose exsertion was delayed. Intermittent drought stress caused a significant reduction in relative water content (RWC) and an increase in the abscisic acid (ABA) level of the peduncles, while both returned to normal levels upon re-watering. Semi-quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis revealed the down-regulation of GA biosynthetic genes during drought. 2D-PAGE analysis of proteins from peduncles collected under well-watered, drought-stressed, and re-watered plants revealed at least twofold differential changes in expression of 31 proteins in response to drought and most of these changes were largely reversed by re-watering. The results indicate that ABA-GA antagonism is a key focal point for understanding the failure of panicle exsertion under drought stress and the consequent increase in spikelet sterility.

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Abscisic acid


Gibberellic acid


High-performance liquid chromatography


Two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight


Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction


Relative water content


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The authors are grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation, USA, and Generation Challenge Program for the fellowship awarded to the first author. L. Estenor, W. H. Oane, P. B. Malabanan, F. V. Gulay, and B. A. Enriquez are thanked for technical assistance during the experiment. This research has been facilitated by access to the Australian Proteome Analysis Facility established under the Australian Government’s Major National Research Facilities Program. Bill Hardy from IRRI is thanked for editing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to S. V. K. Jagadish.

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Muthurajan, R., Shobbar, ZS., Jagadish, S.V.K. et al. Physiological and Proteomic Responses of Rice Peduncles to Drought Stress. Mol Biotechnol 48, 173–182 (2011).

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  • Abscisic acid
  • Drought
  • Peduncle
  • Proteomics
  • Rice