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Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00601

Identification of Rice Genes Associated with Enhanced Cold Tolerance by Comparative Transcriptome Analysis with Two Transgenic Rice Plants Overexpressing DaCBF4 or DaCBF7, Isolated from Antarctic Flowering Plant Deschampsia antarctica

 Mi Young Byun1, Li Hua Cui2, Jungeun Lee1, 3, Hyun Park1, 3,  Andosung Lee2,  Woo Taek Kim2* and  Hyoungseok Lee1, 3*
  • 1Unit of Polar Genomics, Korea Polar Research Institute, South Korea
  • 2Department of Systems Biology, Yonsei University, South Korea
  • 3Polar Science, University of Science & Technology, South Korea

Few plant species can survive in Antarctica, the harshest environment for living organisms. Deschampsia antarctica is the only natural grass species to have adapted to and colonized the maritime Antarctic. To investigate the molecular mechanism of the Antarctic adaptation of this plant, we identified and characterized D. antarctica C-repeat binding factor 4 (DaCBF4), which belongs to monocot CBF group IV. The transcript level of DaCBF4 in D. antarctica was markedly increased by cold and dehydration stress. To assess the roles of DaCBF4 in plants, we generated a DaCBF4-overexpressing transgenic rice plant (Ubi:DaCBF4) and analyzed its abiotic stress response phenotype. Ubi:DaCBF4 displayed enhanced tolerance to cold stress without growth retardation under any condition compared to wild-type plants. Because the cold-specific phenotype of Ubi:DaCBF4 was similar to that of Ubi:DaCBF7 (Byun et al., 2015), we screened for the genes responsible for the improved cold tolerance in rice by selecting differentially regulated genes in both transgenic rice lines. By comparative transcriptome analysis using RNA-seq, we identified 9 and 15 genes under normal and cold-stress conditions, respectively, as putative downstream targets of the two D. antarctica CBFs. Overall, our results suggest that Antarctic hairgrass DaCBF4 mediates the cold-stress response of transgenic rice plants by adjusting the expression levels of a set of stress-responsive genes in transgenic rice plants. Moreover, selected downstream target genes will be useful for genetic engineering to enhance the cold tolerance of cereal plants, including rice.

Keywords: C-repeat/DRE binding factor, cold tolerance, Deschampsia Antarctica, RNA seq, transgenic plant, rice

Received: 05 Feb 2018; Accepted: 16 Apr 2018.

Edited by:

Ju-Kon Kim, Seoul National University, South Korea

Reviewed by:

Kazuo Nakashima, Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences, Japan
Hye Sun Cho, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience & Biotechnology  

Copyright: © 2018 Byun, Cui, Lee, Park, Lee, Kim and Lee. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Prof. Woo Taek Kim, Yonsei University, Department of Systems Biology, Seoul, South Korea, wtkim@yonsei.ac.kr
PhD. Hyoungseok Lee, Korea Polar Research Institute, Unit of Polar Genomics, Incheon, South Korea, soulaid@kopri.re.kr