SmLEA2, a gene for late embryogenesis abundant protein isolated from Salvia miltiorrhiza, confers tolerance to drought and salt stress in Escherichia coli and S. miltiorrhiza
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Abiotic stresses, such as drought and high salinity, are major factors that limit plant growth and productivity. Late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins are members of a diverse, multigene family closely associated with tolerance to abiotic stresses in numerous organisms. We examined the function of SmLEA2, previously isolated from Salvia miltiorrhiza, in defense responses to drought and high salinity. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that SmLEA2 belongs to the LEA_2 subfamily. Its overexpression in Escherichia coli improved growth performance when compared with the control under salt and drought stresses. We further characterized its roles in S. miltiorrhiza through overexpression and RNAi-mediated silencing. In response to drought and salinity treatments, transgenic plants overexpressing SmLEA2 exhibited significantly increased superoxide dismutase activity, reduced levels of lipid peroxidation, and more vigorous growth than empty-vector control plants did. However, transgenic lines in which expression was suppressed showed the opposite results. Our data demonstrate that SmLEA2 plays an important role in the abiotic stress response and its overexpression in transgenic S. miltiorrhiza improves tolerance to excess salt and drought conditions.
KeywordsLEA Salvia miltiorrhiza Abiotic stress Escherichia coli
This work benefited from financial support from the Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi Province, China (2014JQ3107) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (GK201302043).
Compliance with Ethical Standard
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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