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Improved salt tolerance of transgenic wheat by introducing betA gene for glycine betaine synthesis


A betA gene encoding choline dehydrogenase from Escherichia coli (E. coli) was transformed into wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. PCR amplification and Southern blotting confirmed the existence of transgene in transformed plants and their progeny. Levels of expression of the betA gene varied among the different transgenic lines based on RT-PCR analysis. Under salt stress conditions, transgenic lines L2 and L3 had higher levels of glycine betaine and chlorophyll, lower Na+/K+ ratios and solute potential, and less cell membrane damage. These lines also retained moderately higher photosynthesis rates and more vigorous growth than the wild-type line at 200 mM NaCl. In a field trial in a high salt field, transgenic lines L2 and L3 had higher germination rates, more tillers and higher grain yields in comparison to the wild-type plants. This suggested that the transgenic plants were more tolerant to salt stress and have potential for breeding salt-tolerant wheat.

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Betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase


Choline dehydrogenase


Choline monooxygenase


Choline oxidase


Glycine sarcosine methyltransferase


Dimethylglycine methyltransferase


Glycine betaine




Relative water content




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We are grateful to Dr. Yongbin Yan (Tsinghua University) for his assistance with NMR, to Dr. Xiaoming Li (Shandong University) for measuring photosynthesis and Dr. Roberta Greenwood for her help in editing this manuscript. This research was supported by the Hi-Tech Research and Development (863) Program of China (2007AA10Z175, 2007AA091701).

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Correspondence to Juren Zhang.

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He, C., Yang, A., Zhang, W. et al. Improved salt tolerance of transgenic wheat by introducing betA gene for glycine betaine synthesis. Plant Cell Tiss Organ Cult 101, 65–78 (2010).

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  • Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)
  • Transgene
  • Salt stress
  • Glycine betaine