Glycinebetaine enhances the tolerance of tomato plants to high temperature during germination of seeds and growth of seedlings

Plant Cell Environ. 2011 Nov;34(11):1931-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2011.02389.x. Epub 2011 Jul 21.


Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum cv. 'Moneymaker') was transformed with a codA gene, from Arthrobacter globiformis, for choline oxidase that had been modified to allow targeting to both chloroplasts and the cytosol. Glycinebetaine (GB) accumulated in seeds of transformed plants up to 1 µmol g(-1) dry weight (DW), while no detectable GB was found in wild-type (WT) seeds. The codA-transgenic seeds germinated faster and at higher frequency than WT seeds with high temperature treatment. After heat stress, levels of expression of a mitochondrial small heat-shock protein (MT-sHSP), heat-shock protein 70 (HSP70) and heat-shock cognate 70 (HSC70) were higher in transgenic seeds than in WT seeds during heat stress, and the accumulation of HSP70 was more prominent in codA-transgenic seeds than in WT seeds. Addition of GB to the germination medium or imbibition of seeds in a solution of GB enhanced the tolerance of WT seeds to high temperatures. WT seeds treated with exogenous GB also expressed heat-shock genes at elevated levels and accumulated more HSP70 than controls. Our results suggest that GB, either applied exogenously or accumulated in vivo in codA-transgenic seeds, enhanced the expression of heat-shock genes in and improved the tolerance to high temperature of tomato seeds during germination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological* / drug effects
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Arthrobacter / enzymology
  • Betaine / metabolism*
  • Betaine / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / drug effects
  • Germination / drug effects
  • Germination / genetics
  • Germination / physiology*
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Seedlings / drug effects
  • Seedlings / genetics
  • Seedlings / growth & development*
  • Seeds / drug effects
  • Seeds / genetics
  • Seeds / growth & development*
  • Solanum lycopersicum / drug effects
  • Solanum lycopersicum / genetics
  • Solanum lycopersicum / growth & development
  • Solanum lycopersicum / physiology*
  • Transformation, Genetic / drug effects
  • Transgenes / genetics


  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Betaine
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases
  • choline oxidase