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Physiol Plant. 2019 Apr 24. doi: 10.1111/ppl.12978. [Epub ahead of print]

The WRKY transcription factor SlWRKY8 promotes resistance to pathogen infection and mediates drought and salt stress tolerance in Solanum lycopersicum.

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School of Life Science and Engineering, Southwest University of Science and Technology, Mianyang, Sichuan, 621010, People's Republic of China.


WRKY transcription factors play a key role in the tolerance of biotic and abiotic stresses across various crop species, but the function of some WRKY genes, particularly in tomato, remains unexplored. Here we characterize the roles of a previously unstudied WRKY gene, SlWRKY8, in the resistance to pathogen infection and the tolerance to drought and salt stresses. Expression of SlWRKY8 was up-regulated upon Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 (Pst. DC3000), abiotic stresses such as drought, salt and cold, as well as ABA and SA treatments. The SlWRKY8 protein was localized to the nucleus with no transcription activation in yeast, but it could activate W-box-dependent transcription in plants. The overexpression of SlWRKY8 in tomato conferred a greater resistance to the pathogen Pst. DC3000 and resulted in the increased transcription levels of two pathogen-related genes SlPR1a1 and SlPR7. Moreover, transgenic plants displayed the alleviated wilting or chlorosis phenotype under drought and salt stresses, with higher levels of stress-induced osmotic substances like proline and higher transcript levels of the stress-responsive genes SlAREB, SlDREB2A and SlRD29. Stomatal aperature was smaller under drought stress in transgenic plants, maintaining higher water content in leaves compared to wildtype plants. The oxidative pressure, indicated by the concentration of hydrogen peroxide (H2 O2 ) and malondialdehyde (MDA), was also reduced in transgenic plants, where we also observed higher levels of antioxidant enzyme activities under stress. Overall, our results suggest that SlWRKY8 functions as a positive regulator in plant immunity against pathogen infection as well as in plant responses to drought and salt stresses. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


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