Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 94, Issue 1–2, pp 109–124 | Cite as

Cassava C-repeat binding factor 1 gene responds to low temperature and enhances cold tolerance when overexpressed in Arabidopsis and cassava

  • Dong An
  • Qiuxiang Ma
  • Hongxia Wang
  • Jun Yang
  • Wenzhi Zhou
  • Peng ZhangEmail author


Key message

Cassava MeCBF1 is a typical CBF transcription factor mediating cold responses but its low expression in apical buds along with a retarded response cause inefficient upregulation of downstream cold-related genes, rendering cassava chilling-sensitive.


Low temperature is a major abiotic stress factor affecting survival, productivity and geographic distribution of important crops worldwide. The C-repeat/dehydration-responsive element binding transcription factors (CBF/DREB) are important regulators of abiotic stress response in plants. In this study, MeCBF1, a CBF-like gene, was identified in the tropical root crop cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz). The MeCBF1 encodes a protein that shares strong homology with DREB1As/CBFs from Arabidopsis as well as other species. The MeCBF1 was localized to the nucleus and is mainly expressed in stem and mature leaves, but not in apical buds or stem cambium. MeCBF1 expression was not only highly responsive to cold, but also significantly induced by salt, PEG and ABA treatment. Several stress-associated cis-elements were found in its promoter region, e.g., ABRE-related, MYC recognition sites, and MYB responsive element. Compared with AtCBF1, the MeCBF1 expression induced by cold in cassava was retarded and upregulated only after 4 h, which was also confirmed by its promoter activity. Overexpression of MeCBF1 in transgenic Arabidopsis and cassava plants conferred enhanced crytolerance. The CBF regulon was smaller and not entirely co-regulated with MeCBF1 expression in overexpressed cassava. The retarded MeCBF1 expression in response to cold and attenuated CBF-regulon might lead cassava to chilling sensitivity.


Manihot esculenta Crantz MeCBF1 Expression pattern Function verification Low temperature Stress response 



This research was supported by grants from the National Key Technology R&D Program of China (No. 2015BAD15B01), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31271775; 31571729), and the Earmarked Fund for China Agriculture Research System (No. CARS-12-shzp).

Author contributions

DA performed most of the experiments and drafted the manuscript. QM produced transgenic cassava. HW and JY conducted part of gene and promoter analysis. WZ conducted part of field experiments. PZ coordinated and designed the study and revised most of the article.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11103_2017_596_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.7 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3757 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Key Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics, CAS Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological SciencesChinese Academy of ScienceShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Shanghai Key Laboratory of Plant Functional Genomics and Resources, Shanghai Chenshan Plant Science Research CenterChinese Academy of Science, Shanghai Chenshan Botanical GardenShanghaiChina

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