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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01375

Over-expression of ERF38 gene enhances salt and osmotic tolerance in transgenic poplar

 Zihan Cheng1*,  Xuemei Zhang2,  Kai Zhao2,  Wenjing Yao2, 3, Renhua Li2, Boru Zhou2 and  Tingbo Jiang2
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Tree Genetics and Breeding, Northeast Forestry University, China
  • 2State Key Laboratory of Tree Genetics and Breeding, Northeast Forestry University, China
  • 3Bamboo Research Institute, Nanjing Forestry University, China

Ethylene response factor (ERF) gene family plays an important role in abiotic stress responses. In this study, we isolated a salt-inducible ERF gene, ERF38 (Potri.006G138900.1), from the 84K poplar (Populus alba × P. glandulosa) and investigated its functions in salt and drought tolerance. We identified that ERF38 protein was targeted to nucleus and had no self-activation. Results from yeast-one-hybrid indicated that the ERF38 protein can specifically bind to the dehydration responsive element (DRE). We then successfully transferred the ERF38 gene into the 84K poplar. Under respective drought and salt stresses, four of the physiological traits, including peroxidase (POD) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities, soluble protein content, and proline content, increased significantly in the transgenic plants, compared to the wild type. Regarding the other two parameters, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and malondialdehyde (MDA) content, their increments in the transgenic lines under the stresses, which were compared to the water control, were significantly low than that of the wild type. In addition, reactive oxygen species (ROS) are scavenged in the transgenic lines under the stresses, but not in the wild type (WT). Interestingly, when challenged with the stresses, expression levels of a few genes associated with POD and SOD metabolism were significantly increased in the transgenic poplars. In all, evidence from morphological, physiological, and biochemical analyses indicated that over-expression of ERF38 gene can improve salt and drought tolerance in the transgenic poplar.

Keywords: poplar, ERF38 gene, Salt and osmotic tolerance, Gene Expression, genetic transformation

Received: 01 Jul 2019; Accepted: 04 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Cheng, Zhang, Zhao, Yao, Li, Zhou and Jiang. 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(s) 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: Mx. Zihan Cheng, State Key Laboratory of Tree Genetics and Breeding, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, China,