Investigation of the role of AtNOGC1, a guanylyl cyclase protein in response to abiotic and biotic stress
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Agricultural production is one of the most important sectors which provide food for the growing world population which is estimated to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, thus there is a need to produce more food. Climate change, on the other hand, is negatively affecting major global crops such as maize, sorghum, wheat and barley. Environmental factors such as salinity, drought, high temperatures and pathogens affect plant production by oxidatively damaging the physiological processes in plants, leading to plant death. Poor irrigation used to combat drought result in salinasation, which is estimated to affect 50% of arable land by 2050. Plants have developed several mechanisms that protect them against stress and these include overexpression of stress responsive genes and altered signal transduction to change the expression of stress responsive genes, among others. Cyclic 3’5’ guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), a second messenger that is synthesised by guanylyl cyclase (GC), transmit signals to various cellular functions in plants during plant development, growth and response to abiotic and biotic stresses. Arabidopsis thaliana nitric oxide guanylyl cyclase 1 (AtNOGC1) is a guanylyl cyclase which upon activation by nitric oxide (NO) leads to the production of more cGMP. Cyclic GMP further activates protein kinases, ion gated channels and phosphodiesterase which mediate response to various stresses. In this project the role of AtNOGC1 was investigated in response to abiotic and biotic stresses through analysis of its evolutionary relationships, promoter, gene expression and functional analysis via the viability assays in Escherichia coli (E.coli). Phylogenetic tree, exon-intron structure and conserved motifs were analysed using the Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis (MEGA V.7), Gene Structure Display Server 2.0 (GSDS 2.0), and Multiple Expectation Maximisation for Motif Elicitation (MEME) tools respectively. AtNOGC1’s gene expression was analysed by the Real-Time Quantitative Reverse Transcription Polymerase Reaction (qRT-PCR), whereas functional analysis was carried out using the cell viability (liquid and spot) assays to determine its ability to confer stress tolerance to E. coli.