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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Dec 24;99(26):17197-202. Epub 2002 Dec 16.

Increased level of hemoglobin 1 enhances survival of hypoxic stress and promotes early growth in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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  • 1Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Plant Industry, G.P.O. Box 1600, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia.


Overexpression of a class 1 Hb (GLB1) protects Arabidopsis thaliana plants from the effects of severe hypoxia. Overexpression of the bifunctional symbiotic Hb (GLB1S) from Parasponia andersonii in A. thaliana also increases survival after hypoxia. Plants overexpressing the Hb 1 protein, mutated to have a low oxygen affinity, are as susceptible to hypoxia as WT plants, suggesting that the protection against hypoxia depends on the ability of the Hb to bind ligands, such as oxygen, with high affinity. A mild hypoxia pretreatment (5%) induces the Hb gene and increases the survival of plants after severe hypoxic treatment (0.1%). These results with Hb 1 show that plant Hbs have a role other than in nitrogen-fixing root nodules. Plants overexpressing the GLB1 protein show early vigorous growth in nonhypoxic conditions and are 50% larger in weight than the controls at 14 days. The constitutive expression of GLB1 also resulted in a reduced number of root hairs and increased number of laterals in the root system.

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