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PvNAC1 increases biomass and enhances salt tolerance by decreasing Na+ accumulation and promoting ROS scavenging in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.)

Wang, Jinfang, Zhang, Lei, Wang, Xiaoyun, Liu, Lun, Lin, Xinpeng, Wang, Wenjing, Qi, Chuandong, Cao, Yunyun, Li, Shuangtao, Ren, Shuxin, Zhang, Yunwei, Zhang, Wanjun, Guo, Yang-Dong
Plant science 2019 v.280 pp. 66-76
Panicum virgatum, RNA interference, abscisic acid, acid treatment, bioethanol, biomass, cellulose, energy crops, ethanol production, genes, growth performance, hydrogen peroxide, potassium, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, roots, salt stress, salt tolerance, shoots, sodium, stress response, transactivators, transcriptional activation
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a bioenergy crop; thus, it is important to improve biomass to effectively produce bioethanol, particularly under adverse stress conditions. NAC transcription factors are involved in the abiotic stress response. PvNAC1 was isolated in the nucleus of switchgrass, with its C-terminal region containing a transcriptional activation domain. PvNAC1 expression was induced by dehydration, salt, H2O2, and abscisic acid treatments. Overexpressing (OE) PvNAC1 improved growth performance, leading to significantly taller and heavier (dry weight) plants. Moreover, cellulose content was significantly higher in OE plants, indicating that PvNAC1 plays an important role regulating growth and bioethanol production. PvNAC1 RNA interference (RNAi) switchgrass plants exhibited reduced dry weight and cellulose content. OE PvNAC1 enhanced tolerance to salt stress, through higher reactive oxygen species scavenging ability and less Na+ and more K+ accumulation in roots and shoots. RNAi plants were more sensitive to salt stress. The quantitative polymerase chain reaction results revealed that some stress responsive genes, three antioxidant enzymatic genes, and an ion homeostasis-related gene were upregulated in OE plants and downregulated in RNAi plants. These results show that PvNAC1 functions as a transcriptional activator in response to salt stress and growth.