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Planta. 2011 Jun;233(6):1265-76. doi: 10.1007/s00425-011-1382-3. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

Overexpression of HARDY, an AP2/ERF gene from Arabidopsis, improves drought and salt tolerance by reducing transpiration and sodium uptake in transgenic Trifolium alexandrinum L.

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Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Mansoura University, Damietta Branch, New Damietta 34517, Egypt.


Trifolium alexandrinum L. was transformed with the Arabidopsis HARDY gene that belongs to the stress-related AP2/ERF (APETALA2/ethylene responsive element binding factors) superfamily of transcription factors. The fresh weights of the transgenic lines L2 and L3 were improved by 42 and 55% under drought stress and by 38 and 95% under salt stress compared to the wild type, respectively. The dry weights were similarly improved. Overexpression of HARDY improved the instantaneous water use efficiency (WUE) under drought stress by reducing transpiration (E) and under salt stress by improving photosynthesis (A), through reducing Na+ accumulation in leaves, and reducing E. However, HARDY improved the growth of drought-stressed transgenic plants as compared to the wild type by delaying water depletion from soil and preventing rapid decline in A. L2 and L3 had thicker stems and in case of L3, more xylem rows per vascular bundle, which may have made L3 more resistant to lodging in the field. Field performance of L2 and L3 under combined drought and salt stress was significantly better than that of the wild type in terms of fresh and dry weights (40%, 46% and 31%, 40%, respectively). The results provide further evidence for the efficiency of overexpression of a single gene in improving tolerance to abiotic stress under field conditions.

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