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J Exp Bot. 2011 Oct;62(14):4787-803. doi: 10.1093/jxb/err130. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

Global gene expression analysis of transgenic, mannitol-producing, and salt-tolerant Arabidopsis thaliana indicates widespread changes in abiotic and biotic stress-related genes.

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  • 1Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430074, PR China.


Mannitol is a putative osmoprotectant contributing to salt tolerance in several species. Arabidopsis plants transformed with the mannose-6-phosphate reductase (M6PR) gene from celery were dramatically more salt tolerant (at 100 mM NaCl) as exhibited by reduced salt injury, less inhibition of vegetative growth, and increased seed production relative to the wild type (WT). When treated with 200 mM NaCl, transformants produced no seeds, but did bolt, and exhibited less chlorosis/necrosis and greater survival and dry weights than the WT. Without salt there were no M6PR effects on growth or phenotype, but expression levels of 2272 genes were altered. Many fewer differences (1039) were observed between M6PR and WT plants in the presence of salt, suggesting that M6PR pre-conditioned the plants to stress. Previous work suggested that mannitol is an osmoprotectant, but mannitol levels are invariably quite low, perhaps inadequate for osmoprotectant effects. In this study, transcriptome analysis reveals that the M6PR transgene activated the downstream abscisic acid (ABA) pathway by up-regulation of ABA receptor genes (PYL4, PYL5, and PYL6) and down-regulation of protein phosphatase 2C genes (ABI1 and ABI2). In the M6PR transgenic lines there were also increases in transcripts related to redox and cell wall-strengthening pathways. These data indicate that mannitol-enhanced stress tolerance is due at least in part to increased expression of a variety of stress-inducible genes.

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