Abiotic stresses, such as drought and salt, are major environmental stresses, affecting plant growth and crop productivity. Plant bZIP transcription factors (bZIPs) confer stress resistances in harsh environments and play important roles in each phase of plant growth processes. In this research, 15 soybean bZIP family members were identified from drought-induced de novo transcriptomic sequences of soybean, which were unevenly distributed across 12 soybean chromosomes. Promoter analysis showed that these 15 genes were rich in ABRE, MYB and MYC cis-acting elements which were reported to be involved in abiotic stress responses. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analysis indicated that 15 GmbZIP genes could be induced by drought and salt stress. GmbZIP2 was significantly upregulated under stress conditions and thus was selected for further study. Subcellular localization analysis revealed that the GmbZIP2 protein was located in the cell nucleus. qRT-PCR results show that GmbZIP2 can be induced by multiple stresses. The overexpression of GmbZIP2 in Arabidopsis and soybean hairy roots could improve plant resistance to drought and salt stresses. The result of differential expression gene analysis shows that the overexpression of GmbZIP2 in soybean hairy roots could enhance the expression of the stress responsive genes GmMYB48, GmWD40, GmDHN15, GmGST1 and GmLEA. These results indicate that soybean bZIPs played pivotal roles in plant resistance to abiotic stresses.
Keywords: abiotic stress resistance; bZIP transcription factor; expression pattern; gene regulate; soybean.