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Overexpression of the pear PbSPMS gene in Arabidopsis thaliana increases resistance to abiotic stress


The fruit of ‘Dangshansuli’ pear is yellowish green in colour, while that of its mutant ‘Xiusu’ is russet in colour. A differentially expressed gene, PbSPMS, was screened from the transcriptomes of the exocarps of ‘Dangshansuli’ and ‘Xiusu’ fruit. To understand the role of PbSPMS in the russet exocarp formation of ‘Xiusu’, the expression of the PbSPMS gene in the exocarp of ‘Dangshansuli’ and ‘Xiusu’ at different stages of development was analysed. The functions of the PbSPMS gene in phenolic synthesis and suberin and polyamine (PA) deposition in Arabidopsis plants and the responses to drought and salt stress were also studied. The results showed that the relative area of vascular bundles of the transgenic PbSPMS Arabidopsis plants was larger than that of the wild-type (WT) plants and that the secondary thickened cell wall of the xylem was thicker in the transgenic Arabidopsis plants than in the WT plants. The contents of PAs, phenolics and suberin in the PbSPMS Arabidopsis plants were greater than those in the WT plants. Under drought and salt stress, the introduction of PbSPMS facilitated the rapid accumulation of spermidine (Spd) and spermine (Spm) within a short period of time in A. thaliana, and the contents of Spd and Spm were significantly greater in the transgenic plants than in the WT plants, showing that PbSPMS participates in the stress response rapidly to reduce the negative effects of stress. Moreover, exogenous PbSPMS increased the contents of proline (Pro), H2O2, peroxidase (POD) and soluble sugars in the plants. With prolonged stress time, the contents of all the compounds increased gradually, and the longer the stress time was, the more significant the drought resistance of the PbSPMS transgenic plants. Overall, the results demonstrated that PbSPMS contributes to phenolic synthesis and suberin and PA deposition in Arabidopsis plants and improves plant resistance to both drought and salt stress.

Key message

An pear gene, PbSPMS might be involved in phenolic and suberin compound biosynthesis, and response to salinity and drought stress in transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Days after full bloom


Pyrus bretschneideri SPMS gene


Spermine synthase














Wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana (Columbia)


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This project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31101519, 31972985) and the earmarked fund for China Agriculture Research System (CARS-29-14). The authors thank American Journal Experts for the helpful suggestions and revisions of the manuscript.

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HW and JXH conceived and designed the study. ZJY and WQ constructed and transformed gene vectors, screened and purified transgenic Arabidopsis seeds. ZJY and JB collected fruits and prepared for RNA. WXY and CXN performed RT-qPCR. LP and YZF contributed to bioinformatic analysis. JXH contributed to the writing of the manuscript and data analysis. ZJY and ZLW revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Liwu Zhu or Wei Heng.

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Jiang, X., Zhan, J., Wang, Q. et al. Overexpression of the pear PbSPMS gene in Arabidopsis thaliana increases resistance to abiotic stress. Plant Cell Tiss Organ Cult 140, 389–401 (2020).

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  • Pear
  • PbSPMS
  • Polyamine
  • Phenols
  • Suberin
  • Resistance