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Overexpression of GsZFP1 enhances salt and drought tolerance in transgenic alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.)

Tang, Lili, Cai, Hua, Ji, Wei, Luo, Xiao, Wang, Zhenyu, Wu, Jing, Wang, Xuedong, Cui, Lin, Wang, Yang, Zhu, Yanming, Bai, Xi
Plant physiology and biochemistry 2013 v.71 pp. 22-30
Arabidopsis, Glycine soja, Medicago sativa, alfalfa, cold tolerance, drought, drought tolerance, farming systems, forage legumes, gene overexpression, genes, genetic markers, genetically modified organisms, malondialdehyde, membrane permeability, potassium, proline, roots, salt stress, salt tolerance, semiarid zones, shoots, sodium, sugars, water stress
GsZFP1 encodes a Cys2/His2-type zinc-finger protein. In our previous study, when GsZFP1 was heterologously expressed in Arabidopsis, the transgenic Arabidopsis plants exhibited enhanced drought and cold tolerance. However, it is still unknown whether GsZFP1 is also involved in salt stress. GsZFP1 is from the wild legume Glycine soja. Therefore, the aims of this study were to further elucidate the functions of the GsZFP1 gene under salt and drought stress in the forage legume alfalfa and to investigate its biochemical and physiological functions under these stress conditions. Our data showed that overexpression of GsZFP1 in alfalfa resulted in enhanced salt tolerance. Under high salinity stress, greater relative membrane permeability and malondialdehyde (MDA) content were observed and more free proline and soluble sugars accumulated in transgenic alfalfa than in the wild-type (WT) plants; in addition, the transgenic lines accumulated less Na+ and more K+ in both the shoots and roots. Overexpression of GsZFP1 also enhanced the drought tolerance of alfalfa. The fold-inductions of stress-responsive marker gene expression, including MtCOR47, MtRAB18, MtP5CS, and MtRD2, were greater in transgenic alfalfa than those of WT under drought stress conditions. In conclusion, the transgenic alfalfa plants generated in this study could be used for farming in salt-affected as well as arid and semi-arid areas.