Use of a stress inducible promoter to drive ectopic AtCBF expression improves potato freezing tolerance while minimizing negative effects on tuber yield

Plant Biotechnol J. 2007 Sep;5(5):591-604. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2007.00269.x. Epub 2007 Jun 8.


Solanum tuberosum is a frost-sensitive species incapable of cold acclimation. A brief exposure to frost can significantly reduce its yields, while hard frosts can completely destroy entire crops. Thus, gains in freezing tolerance of even a few degrees would be of considerable benefit relative to frost damage. The S. tuberosum cv. Umatilla was transformed with three Arabidopsis CBF genes (AtCBF1-3) driven by either a constitutive CaMV35S or a stress-inducible Arabidopsis rd29A promoter. AtCBF1 and AtCBF3 over-expression via the 35S promoter increased freezing tolerance about 2 degrees C, whereas AtCBF2 over-expression failed to increase freezing tolerance. Transgenic plants of AtCBF1 and AtCBF3 driven by the rd29A promoter reached the same level of freezing tolerance as the 35S versions within a few hours of exposure to low but non-freezing temperatures. Constitutive expression of AtCBF genes was associated with negative phenotypes, including smaller leaves, stunted plants, delayed flowering, and reduction or lack of tuber production. While imparting the same degree of freezing tolerance, control of AtCBF expression via the stress-inducible promoter ameliorated these negative phenotypic effects and restored tuber production to levels similar to wild-type plants. These results suggest that use of a stress-inducible promoter to direct CBF transgene expression can yield significant gains in freezing tolerance without negatively impacting agronomically important traits in potato.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Freezing*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Plant Tubers / genetics
  • Plant Tubers / growth & development
  • Plant Tubers / physiology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics*
  • Solanum tuberosum / genetics*
  • Solanum tuberosum / growth & development
  • Solanum tuberosum / physiology