Transgenic Tobacco Plants Overexpressing a Grass PpEXP1 Gene Exhibit Enhanced Tolerance to Heat StressReport as inadecuate

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Heat stress is a detrimental abiotic stress limiting the growth of many plant species and is associated with various cellular and physiological damages. Expansins are a family of proteins which are known to play roles in regulating cell wall elongation and expansion, as well as other growth and developmental processes. The in vitro roles of expansins regulating plant heat tolerance are not well understood. The objectives of this study were to isolate and clone an expansin gene in a perennial grass species Poa pratensis and to determine whether over-expression of expansin may improve plant heat tolerance. Tobacco Nicotiana tabacum was used as the model plant for gene transformation and an expansin gene PpEXP1 from Poa pratensis was cloned. Sequence analysis showed PpEXP1 belonged to α-expansins and was closely related to two expansin genes in other perennial grass species Festuca pratensis and Agrostis stolonifera as well as Triticum aestivum, Oryza sativa, and Brachypodium distachyon. Transgenic tobacco plants over-expressing PpEXP1 were generated through Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Under heat stress 42°C in growth chambers, transgenic tobacco plants over-expressing the PpEXP1 gene exhibited a less structural damage to cells, lower electrolyte leakage, lower levels of membrane lipid peroxidation, and lower content of hydrogen peroxide, as well as higher chlorophyll content, net photosynthetic rate, relative water content, activity of antioxidant enzyme, and seed germination rates, compared to the wild-type plants. These results demonstrated the positive roles of PpEXP1 in enhancing plant tolerance to heat stress and the possibility of using expansins for genetic modification of cool-season perennial grasses in the development of heat-tolerant germplasm and cultivars.

Author: Qian Xu, Xiao Xu, Yang Shi, Jichen Xu , Bingru Huang



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