The sunflower transcription factor HaHB11 improves yield, biomass and tolerance to flooding in transgenic Arabidopsis plants

J Biotechnol. 2016 Mar 20:222:73-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2016.02.015. Epub 2016 Feb 10.


HaHB11 is a member of the sunflower homeodomain-leucine zipper I subfamily of transcription factors. The analysis of a sunflower microarray hybridized with RNA from HaHB11-transformed leaf-disks indicated the regulation of many genes encoding enzymes from glycolisis and fermentative pathways. A 1300bp promoter sequence, fused to the GUS reporter gene, was used to transform Arabidopsis plants showing an induction of expression after flooding treatments, concurrently with HaHB11 regulation by submergence in sunflower. Arabidopsis transgenic plants expressing HaHB11 under the control of the CaMV 35S promoter and its own promoter were obtained and these plants exhibited significant increases in rosette and stem biomass. All the lines produced more seeds than controls and particularly, those of high expression level doubled seeds yield. Transgenic plants also showed tolerance to flooding stress, both to submergence and waterlogging. Carbohydrates contents were higher in the transgenics compared to wild type and decreased less after submergence treatments. Finally, transcript levels of selected genes involved in glycolisis and fermentative pathways as well as the corresponding enzymatic activities were assessed both, in sunflower and transgenic Arabidopsis plants, before and after submergence. Altogether, the present work leads us to propose HaHB11 as a biotechnological tool to improve crops yield, biomass and flooding tolerance.

Keywords: Arabidopsis; Flooding; HaHB11; Homeodomain-leucine zipper; Waterlogging; Yield improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Biomass
  • Floods
  • Helianthus / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / chemistry
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Leucine Zippers / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / physiology*
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors