Late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins are highly hydrophilic and thermostable proteins that could be induced by abiotic stresses in plants. Previously, we have isolated a group 3 LEA gene TdLEA3 in wheat. The data show that TdLEA3 was largely disordered under fully hydrated conditions and was able to prevent the inactivation of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) under stress treatments. In the present work, we further investigate the role of TdLEA3 by analyzing its expression pattern under abiotic stress conditions in two contrasting wheat genotypes and by overexpressing it in Arabidopsis thaliana. Transgenic Arabidopsis plants showed higher tolerance levels to salt and oxidative stress compared to the wild type plants. Meanwhile, there was significant increase in antioxidants, catalase (CAT), peroxidase (POD) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) accumulation, increased root length and significant reduction in oxidants, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and malondialdehyde (MDA) content in the leaves of transgenic lines under stress conditions. Accordingly, Q-PCR results indicate that the higher levels of expression of different ROS scavenging genes (AtP5CS, AtCAT, AtPOD and AtSOD) and abiotic stress related genes (RAB18 and RD29B) were detected in transgenic lines. In addition, they showed increased resistance to fungal infections caused by Fusarium graminearum, Botrytis cinerea and Aspergillus niger. Finally, Q-PCR results for biotic stress related genes (PR1, PDF1.2, LOX3 and VSP2) showed differential expression in transgenic TdLEA3 lines. All these results strongly reinforce the interest of TdLEA3 in plant adaptation to various stresses.
Keywords: Antioxidants; Arabidopsis; Biotic stress; ROS; Salt and oxidative stress; TdLEA3; Wheat.
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