Molecular Biology Reports

, Volume 41, Issue 12, pp 7995–8008 | Cite as

Overexpression of AtDREB1D transcription factor improves drought tolerance in soybean

  • Satish K. Guttikonda
  • Babu Valliyodan
  • Anjanasree K. Neelakandan
  • Lam-Son Phan Tran
  • Rajesh Kumar
  • Truyen N. Quach
  • Priyamvada Voothuluru
  • Juan J. Gutierrez-Gonzalez
  • Donavan L. Aldrich
  • Stephen G. Pallardy
  • Robert E. Sharp
  • Tuan-Hua David Ho
  • Henry T. Nguyen


Drought is one of the major abiotic stresses that affect productivity in soybean (Glycine max L.) Several genes induced by drought stress include functional genes and regulatory transcription factors. The Arabidopsis thaliana DREB1D transcription factor driven by the constitutive and ABA-inducible promoters was introduced into soybean through Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated gene transfer. Several transgenic lines were generated and molecular analysis was performed to confirm transgene integration. Transgenic plants with an ABA-inducible promoter showed a 1.5- to two-fold increase of transgene expression under severe stress conditions. Under well-watered conditions, transgenic plants with constitutive and ABA-inducible promoters showed reduced total leaf area and shoot biomass compared to non-transgenic plants. No significant differences in root length or root biomass were observed between transgenic and non-transgenic plants under non-stress conditions. When subjected to gradual water deficit, transgenic plants maintained higher relative water content because the transgenic lines used water more slowly as a result of reduced total leaf area. This caused them to wilt slower than non-transgenic plants. Transgenic plants showed differential drought tolerance responses with a significantly higher survival rate compared to non-transgenic plants when subjected to comparable severe water-deficit conditions. Moreover, the transgenic plants also showed improved drought tolerance by maintaining 17–24 % greater leaf cell membrane stability compared to non-transgenic plants. The results demonstrate the feasibility of engineering soybean for enhanced drought tolerance by expressing stress-responsive genes.


DREB Drought tolerance Environmental stresses Cell membrane stability Soybean Transcription factor 



We thank Dr. Zhanyuan Zhang, Plant Transformation Core Facility, University of Missouri for the soybean transformation and Dr. Thomas Clemente, University of Nebraska for providing sub-cloning vectors. This work was supported by the United Soybean Board and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council funding to HTN.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Satish K. Guttikonda
    • 1
    • 2
  • Babu Valliyodan
    • 1
  • Anjanasree K. Neelakandan
    • 3
  • Lam-Son Phan Tran
    • 4
  • Rajesh Kumar
    • 5
  • Truyen N. Quach
    • 1
    • 6
  • Priyamvada Voothuluru
    • 1
  • Juan J. Gutierrez-Gonzalez
    • 1
    • 7
  • Donavan L. Aldrich
    • 1
  • Stephen G. Pallardy
    • 1
  • Robert E. Sharp
    • 1
  • Tuan-Hua David Ho
    • 8
  • Henry T. Nguyen
    • 1
  1. 1.National Center for Soybean Biotechnology and Division of Plant SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Biotechnology Regulatory Sciences, Regulatory Sciences and Government AffairsDow AgroSciencesIndianapolisUSA
  3. 3.Department of AgronomyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  4. 4.Signaling Pathway Research UnitRIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource ScienceYokohamaJapan
  5. 5.National Research Center on DNA FingerprintingNational Bureau of Plant Genetic ResourcesNew DelhiIndia
  6. 6.The Center for Plant Science InnovationUniversity of NebraskaLincolnUSA
  7. 7.USDA-ARS Plant Science Research Unit and Department of Agronomy and Plant GeneticsUniversity of MinnesotaSt PaulUSA
  8. 8.Department of BiologyWashington UniversitySaint LouisUSA

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