Enhanced salt stress tolerance in transgenic potato plants (Solanum tuberosum L.) expressing a bacterial mtlD gene
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- Rahnama, H., Vakilian, H., Fahimi, H. et al. Acta Physiol Plant (2011) 33: 1521. doi:10.1007/s11738-010-0690-8
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Bacterial mannitol 1-phosphate dehydrogenase (mtlD) gene was introduced into potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) by Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation. Transgenic plants were selected on a medium containing 100 mg l−1 kanamycin and confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Southern blotting, and RT-PCR analyses. All of the selected transformants accumulated mannitol, a sugar alcohol that is not found in wildtype potato. Experiments designed for testing salt tolerance revealed that there was enhanced NaCl tolerance of the transgenic lines both in vitro and in hydroponic culture. Compared to 0 mM NaCl, the shoot fresh weight of wildtype plants was reduced by 76.5% at 100 mM NaCl under hydroponic conditions. However, under the same condition, the shoot fresh weight of transgenic plants was reduced only by 17.3%, compared to 0 mM NaCl treatment. The improved tolerance of this transgenic line may be attributed to the induction and progressive accumulation of mannitol in the roots and shoots of the plants. In contrast to in vitro experiments, the mannitol content in the transgenic roots and shoots increased at 50 mM NaCl and decreased slightly at 75 and 100 mM NaCl, respectively. Overall, the amount of accumulated mannitol in the transgenic lines was too small to act as an osmolyte; thus, it might act as an osmoprotectant. However, the results demonstrated that mannitol had more contribution to osmotic adjustment in the roots (but not in shoots). Finally, we concluded that mtlD expression in transgenic potato plants can significantly increase the mannitol accumulation that contributes to the enhanced tolerance to NaCl stress. Furthermore, although this enhanced tolerance resulted mainly from an osmoprotectant action, an osmoregulatory effect could not be ruled out.