ABA Signaling in Drought Responses

Group Structure

Group Leader: Dolors Ludevid (CSIC Assistant professor), Montserrat Pages (CSIC Research Professor )
Postdoctoral Researchers: Marta Riera, Belmiro Vilela, Victoria Lumbreras, Eva Dominguez
PhD Students: Agnese Rabissi, Elena Nájar, Isabel Vélez, Tomasso Legnaioli
Undergrad or Master Students: Alejandro Guillen, Fatma Elsayed


The major goal of our research is to understand the basic mechanisms regulating gene expression during drought stress conditions in plants. Elements of abscisic acid (ABA) dependent signalling pathways, particularly transcription factors as well as their target genes controlling the production of stress protective proteins are major targets for regulation of drought tolerance.

In maize three transcription factors obtained from a yeast two-hybrid scrutiny using a kinase type SnRK2 , ZmOST1 and a library of maize subjected to a dehydration treatment have been studied. ZmSNAC1 transcription factor, which is directly, phosphorylated by ZmOST1 in abiotic stress conditions in the regulatory domain of the protein ZmSNAC1. Interestingly in this study also found that I ZmSNAC1 ABA interacts specifically with the region of the kinase ZmOST1 region that have been defined as a contact zone for negative regulation of the kinase by the group of phosphatases PP2Cs. This competitive binding to the same region of ABA -box is important because it provides a possible mechanism for sustained response to ABA required for transcriptional control in situations of water stress. Functional biochemical characterization of two factors: a factor -type bHLH STOP1 and allowed us to determine its nuclear localization, its pattern of phosphorylation in vitro and in vivo by OST1. Genetic and physiological studies on transgenic plants allowed the characterization of the response to osmotic stress tolerance of plants and to evaluate the functionality of these factors in adverse conditions. Important information has been obtained in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms associated to plant responses to drought.

Research Projects

  • Our aim is to evaluate the functional significance of protein phosphorylation/dephosphorylation  in the context of stress tolerance in vivo.
  • We are interested in elucidating the mechanisms by which phosphorylated/ unphosphorylated Transcription Factors control the expression of target genes during stress conditions.

Selected Publications

Vilela B., Moreno A., Capellades M., Pages M., Lumbreras V.
ZmSnRK2.8 responds to ABA through the SnRK2-PP2C complex
(2012) Maydica, vol. 57 (1), pp. 11-18

Amara I., Capellades M., Ludevid M.D., Pages M., Goday A.
Enhanced water stress tolerance of transgenic maize plants over-expressing LEA Rab28 gene
(2013) Journal of Plant Physiology, vol. 170 (9), pp. 864-873

Riera M., Velez-Bermudez I.C., Legnaioli T., Pages M.
Specific Features of Plant CK2
(2013) Protein Kinase CK2, pp. 267-289

Valdes A.E., Irar S., Majada J.P., Rodriguez A., Fernandez B., Pages M.
Drought tolerance acquisition in Eucalyptus globulus (Labill.): A research on plant morphology, physiology and proteomics
(2013) Journal of Proteomics, vol. 79, pp. 263-276

Vilela B., Moreno-Cortes A., Rabissi A., Leung J., Pages M., Lumbreras V.
The Maize OST1 Kinase Homolog Phosphorylates and Regulates the Maize SNAC1-Type Transcription Factor
(2013) PLoS ONE, vol. 8 (2), Art. number e58105