Natural variation identifies new effectors of water-use efficiency in Arabidopsis

Govinal Badiger Bhaskara, Jesse R. Lasky, Samsad Razzaque, Li Zhang, Taslima Haque, Jason E. Bonnette, Guzide Zeynep Civelek, Paul E. Verslues, Thomas E. Juenger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Water-use efficiency (WUE) is the ratio of biomass produced per unit of water consumed; thus, it can be altered by genetic factors that affect either side of the ratio. In the present study, we exploited natural variation for WUE to discover loci affecting either biomass accumulation or water use as factors affecting WUE. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) using integrated WUE measured through carbon isotope discrimination (δ13C) of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions identified genomic regions associated with WUE. Reverse genetic analysis of 70 candidate genes selected based on the GWAS results and transcriptome data identified 25 genes affecting WUE as measured by gravimetric and δ13C analyses. Mutants of four genes had higher WUE than wild type, while mutants of the other 21 genes had lower WUE. The differences in WUE were caused by either altered biomass or water consumption (or both). Stomatal density (SD) was not a primary cause of altered WUE in these mutants. Leaf surface temperatures indicated that transpiration differed for mutants of 16 genes, but generally biomass accumulation had a greater effect on WUE. The genes we identified are involved in diverse cellular processes, including hormone and calcium signaling, meristematic activity, photosynthesis, flowering time, leaf/vasculature development, and cell wall composition; however, none of them had been previously linked to WUE. Thus, our study successfully identified effectors of WUE that can be used to understand the genetic basis of WUE and improve crop productivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2205305119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 16 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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