DROUGHT AND SALT TOLERANCE CONFERRED BY OVEREXPRESSION OF SPLICING FACTORS IN TRANSGENIC PLANTS

L BOURGON, B. AMOROS, MA NAJARO, O VICENTE

Abstract


Abiotic stress conditions. especially drought and soil salinity. are the major causes for the reduction of crop yields and the loss of arable land world-wide. These problems will probably worsen in the next decades. according to climate change models. which predict longer. more frequent and more intense drought periods and the spread of desertification in many temperate and subtropical regions. In this situation. breeding of stress tolerance in crop plants has become an urgent need for the future of agriculture and food production. Over the last years. many research groups have isolated and characterised different genes. involved in mechanisms of plant responses to stress. to be used as biotechnological tools to reach this goal through genetic engineering techniques. Despite the fact that many of these genes actually confer variable levels of tolerance to different types of abiotic stress when expressed in transgenic plants. their practical usefulness has been questioned. In fact. no crop cultivars with sufficient tolerance levels. from an agronomic point of view. have yet been obtained by molecular breeding. In this paper. we will discuss briefly the present situation and future perspectives in this field. Concerning our own work. we will describe the strategy used in our laboratory for the isolation of additional. putative "stress tolerance" genes. based on the functional screening of plant cDNA libraries by expression in yeast. We will focus on two of the isolated Arabidopsis genes. SRL1 and RCY1. which encode proteins belonging to the family of “SR-like” splicing factors. and that. when over-expressed in transgenic Arabidopsis plants. markedly increase their tolerance to water and salt stress. during seed germination and vegetative growth as well as during the phase of reproductive development.

Keywords


abiotic stress; drought tolerance; salt tolerance; pre-mRNA splicing; "SR-like" proteins; molecular breeding; transgenic plants

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15835/buasvmcn-asb:64:1-2:1935




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