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J Plant Physiol. 2012 Mar 15;169(5):459-68. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2011.11.018. Epub 2012 Jan 9.

Overexpression of dehydrin tas14 gene improves the osmotic stress imposed by drought and salinity in tomato.

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CEBAS-CSIC, Department of Stress Biology and Plant Pathology, Campus de Espinardo, P.O. Box 164, 30100 Espinardo-Murcia, Spain.


One strategy to increase the level of drought and salinity tolerance is the transfer of genes codifying different types of proteins functionally related to macromolecules protection, such as group 2 of late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins or dehydrins. The TAS14 dehydrin was isolated and characterized in tomato and its expression was induced by osmotic stress (NaCl and mannitol) and abscisic acid (ABA) [Godoy et al., Plant Mol Biol 1994;26:1921-1934], yet its function in drought and salinity tolerance of tomato remains elusive. In this study, transgenic tomato plants overexpressing tas14 gene under the control of the 35SCaMV promoter were generated to assess the function of tas14 gene in drought and salinity tolerance. The plants overexpressing tas14 gene achieved improved long-term drought and salinity tolerance without affecting plant growth under non-stress conditions. A mechanism of osmotic stress tolerance via osmotic potential reduction and solutes accumulation, such as sugars and K(+) is operating in tas14 overexpressing plants in drought conditions. A similar mechanism of osmotic stress tolerance was observed under salinity. Moreover, the overexpression of tas14 gene increased Na(+) accumulation only in adult leaves, whereas in young leaves, the accumulated solutes were K(+) and sugars, suggesting that plants overexpressing tas14 gene are able to distribute the Na(+) accumulation between young and adult leaves over a prolonged period in stressful conditions. Measurement of ABA showed that the action mechanism of tas14 gene is associated with an earlier and greater accumulation of ABA in leaves during short-term periods. A good feature for the application of this gene in improving drought and salt stress tolerance is the fact that its constitutive expression does not affect plant growth under non-stress conditions, and tolerance induced by overexpression of tas14 gene was observed at the different stress degrees applied to the long term.

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