Background: Drought is a natural hazard that affects crops by inducing water stress. Water stress, induced by drought, accounts for more loss in crop yield than all the other causes combined. With the increasing frequency and intensity of droughts worldwide, it is essential to develop drought-resistant crops to ensure food security. In this paper, we model multiple drought signaling pathways in Arabidopsis using Bayesian networks to identify potential regulators of drought-responsive reporter genes. Genetically intervening at these regulators can help develop drought-resistant crops.
Result: We create the Bayesian network model from the biological literature and determine its parameters from publicly available data. We conduct inference on this model using a stochastic simulation technique known as likelihood weighting to determine the best regulators of drought-responsive reporter genes. Our analysis reveals that activating MYC2 or inhibiting ATAF1 are the best single node intervention strategies to regulate the drought-responsive reporter genes. Additionally, we observe simultaneously activating MYC2 and inhibiting ATAF1 is a better strategy.
Conclusion: The Bayesian network model indicated that MYC2 and ATAF1 are possible regulators of the drought response. Validation experiments showed that ATAF1 negatively regulated the drought response. Thus intervening at ATAF1 has the potential to create drought-resistant crops.