Drought is the major abiotic stress in many wheat environments, decreasing grain yields and farmer’s income. Finding ways to improve drought tolerance in wheat is therefore a global effort. Transcription factors (TFs) play important roles in drought tolerance by stimulating plant’s protective genome activities in response to heat and water limitation. TFs are specialized proteins which can bind to specific DNA elements in gene promoters and modulate gene expression in response to various external and internal stimuli. Thus TFs is a crucial part of plant signal transduction pathway mediated by signal receptors, phytohormones and other regulatory compounds. The activities of TFs are closely related to their structure, and their binding specificity is determined by the homo-/hetero-dimerization of TFs. The expression of downstream genes may produce a subset of TFs or regulate other functional proteins involved in physiological drought adaptation. Thus, the hierarchic regulations of TF activities, downstream gene expression and protein–protein interaction comprise a complex regulatory network, which participates in drought response and adaptation in cereal crops. Basic mechanisms of this regulatory network have been described, but more insight is needed to find new tools for enhancing cereals’ adaptation to drought stress.
Part of the book: Abiotic and Biotic Stress in Plants