In plants, tolerance to drought stress is a result of numerous minor effect loci in which transcriptional regulation contributes significantly to the observed phenotypes. Under severe drought conditions, a major expression quantitative trait loci hotspot was identified on chromosome five in potato. A putative Nuclear factor y subunit C4 was identified as key candidate in the regulatory cascade in response to drought. Further investigation of the eQTL hotspots suggests a role for a putative Homeobox leucine zipper protein 12 in relation to drought in potato. Genes strongly co-expressed with Homeobox leucine zipper protein 12 were plant growth regulators responsive to water deficit stress in Arabidopsis thaliana, implying a possible conserved mechanism. Integrative analysis of genetic, genomic, phenotypic and transcriptomic data provided insights in the downstream functional components of the drought response. The abscisic acid- and environmental stress-inducible protein TAS14 was highly induced by severe drought in potato and acts as a reliable biomarker for the level of stress perceived by the plant. The systems genetics approach supported a role for multiple genes responsive to severe drought stress of Solanum tuberosum. The combination of gene regulatory networks, expression quantitative trait loci mapping and phenotypic analysis proved useful for candidate gene selection.
- Expression quantitative trait loci
- Gene regulatory networks
- nuclear factor y