J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2020, Vol. 62 ›› Issue (10): 1607-1624.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12923

Special Issue: Development

• Molecular Physiology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Maize WI5 encodes an endo‐1,4‐β‐xylanase required for secondary cell wall synthesis and water transport in xylem

Xiaojiao Hu, Yang Cui, Xiaomin Lu, Weibin Song, Lei Lei, Jinjie Zhu, Jinsheng Lai, Lizhu E* and Haiming Zhao*   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, National Maize Improvement Center, College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China

    These authors contributed equally to this work
    Email: Haiming Zhao (haiming223@163.com, Dr. Zhao is responsible for the distribution of the materials associated with this article); Lizhu E (elizhu@cau.edu.cn)
  • Received:2019-06-16 Accepted:2020-02-23 Online:2020-03-04 Published:2020-10-01


Water transport from roots to leaves through xylem is important for plant growth and development. Defects in water transport can cause drought stress, even when there is adequate water in the soil. Here, we identified the maize (Zea mays) wilty5 (wi5) mutant, which exhibits marked dwarfing and leaf wilting throughout most of its life cycle under normal growth conditions. wilty5 seedlings exhibited lower xylem conductivity and wilted more rapidly under drought, NaCl, and high temperature treatments than wild‐type plants. Map‐based cloning revealed that WI5 encodes an active endo‐1,4‐β‐xylanase from glycosyl dehydration family 10, which mainly functions in degrading and reorganizing cell wall xylan. Reverse‐transcription polymerase chain reaction and β‐glucuronidase assays revealed that WI5 is highly expressed in stems, especially in internodes undergoing secondary wall assembly. RNA sequencing suggested that WI5 plays a unique role in internode growth. Immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy confirmed that wi5 is defective in xylan deposition and secondary cell wall thickening. Lignin deposition and xylan content were markedly reduced in wi5 compared to the wild‐type plants. Our results suggest that WI5 functions in xylem cell wall thickening through its xylanase activity and thereby regulates xylem water transport, the drought stress response, and plant growth in maize.

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