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, 246 (3), 453-469

ABP9, a Maize bZIP Transcription Factor, Enhances Tolerance to Salt and Drought in Transgenic Cotton

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ABP9, a Maize bZIP Transcription Factor, Enhances Tolerance to Salt and Drought in Transgenic Cotton

Chunling Wang et al. Planta.

Abstract

ABP9 , encoding a bZIP transcription factor from maize, enhances tolerance to multiple stresses and may participate in the ABA signaling pathway in transgenic cotton by altering physiological and biochemical processes and stress-related gene expression. Abiotic stresses, such as soil salinity and drought, negatively affect growth, development, and yield in cotton. Gene ABP9, which encodes a bZIP transcription factor, binds to the abscisic acid (ABA)-responsive-element (ABRE2) motif of the maize catalase1 gene. Its expression significantly improves tolerance in Arabidopsis to multiple abiotic stresses, but little is known about its role in cotton. In the present study, the ABP9 gene was introduced into upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) cultivar R15 by Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation, and 12 independent transgenic cotton lines were obtained. Cotton plants over-expressing ABP9 have enhanced tolerance to salt and osmotic stress. Under stress, they developed better root systems in a greenhouse and higher germination, reduced stomatal aperture, and stomatal density in a growth chamber. Under drought conditions, survival rate and relative water content (RWC) of transgenic cotton were higher than those of R15 plants. Under salt and osmotic stresses, chlorophyll, proline, and soluble sugar contents significantly increased in transgenic cotton leaves and the malondialdehyde (MDA) content was lower than in R15. Overexpression of ABP9 also enhanced oxidative stress tolerance, reduced cellular levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) through increased activities of antioxidative enzymes, and alleviated oxidative damage to cell. Interestingly, ABP9 over-expressing cotton was more sensitive to exogenous ABA than R15 at seed germination, root growth, stomatal aperture, and stomatal density. Moreover, ABP9 overexpression upregulated significantly the transcription levels of stress-related genes such as GhDBP2, GhNCED2, GhZFP1, GhERF1, GhHB1, and GhSAP1 under salt treatment. Conjointly, these results showed that overexpression of ABP9 conferred enhanced tolerance to multiple abiotic stresses in cotton. The stress-tolerant transgenic lines provide valuable resources for cotton breeding.

Keywords: Cotton breeding; Gene expression; Stress tolerance; Transcription factor (TF); Transgenic cotton; bZIP.

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