The aim of this study was to determine whether transgenic birch (Betula platyphylla) ectopic overexpressing a late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) gene and a basic leucine zipper (bZIP) gene from the salt-tolerant genus Tamarix (salt cedar) show increased tolerance to salt (NaCl) stress. Co-transfer of TaLEA and ThbZIP in birch under the control of two independent CaMV 35S promoters significantly enhanced salt stress. PCR and northern blot analyses indicated that the two genes were ectopically overexpressed in several dual-gene transgenic birch lines. We compared the effects of salt stress among three transgenic birch lines (L-4, L-5, and L-8) and wild type (WT). In all lines, the net photosynthesis values were higher before salt stress treatment than afterwards. After the salt stress treatment, the transgenic lines L-4 and L-8 showed higher values for photosynthetic traits, chlorophyll fluorescence, peroxidase and superoxide dismutase activities, and lower malondialdehyde and Na+ contents, compared with those in WT and L-5. These different responses to salt stress suggested that the transcriptional level of the TaLEA and ThbZIP genes differed among the transgenic lines, resulting in a variety of genetic and phenotypic effects. The results of this research can provide a theoretical basis for the genetic engineering of salt-tolerant trees.
Zhao, X., Zheng, T., Shao, L., Xiao, Z., Wang, F., Li, S., … Qu, G. Z. (2016). Variation analysis of physiological traits in Betula platyphylla overexpressing TaLEA-ThbZIP gene under salt stress. PLoS ONE, 11(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0164820