Transgenic alfalfa plants expressing the sweetpotato orange gene exhibit enhanced abiotic stress tolerance

Zhi Wang, Qingbo Ke, Myoung Duck Kim, Sun Ha Kim, Chang Yoon Ji, Jae Cheol Jeong, Haeng Soon Lee, Woo Sung Park, Mi Jeong Ahn, Hongbing Li, Bingcheng Xu, Xiping Deng, Sang Hoon Lee, Yong Pyo Lim, Sang Soo Kwak

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Abstract

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), a perennial forage crop with high nutritional content, is widely distributed in various environments worldwide. We recently demonstrated that the sweetpotato Orange gene (IbOr) is involved in increasing carotenoid accumulation and enhancing resistance to multiple abiotic stresses. In this study, in an effort to improve the nutritional quality and environmental stress tolerance of alfalfa, we transferred the IbOr gene into alfalfa (cv. Xinjiang Daye) under the control of an oxidative stress-inducible peroxidase (SWPA2) promoter through Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation. Among the 11 transgenic alfalfa lines (referred to as SOR plants), three lines (SOR2, SOR3, and SOR8) selected based on their IbOr transcript levels were examined for their tolerance to methyl viologen (MV)-induced oxidative stress in a leaf disc assay. The SOR plants exhibited less damage in response to MV-mediated oxidative stress and salt stress than non-transgenic plants. The SOR plants also exhibited enhanced tolerance to drought stress, along with higher total carotenoid levels. The results suggest that SOR alfalfa plants would be useful as forage crops with improved nutritional value and increased tolerance to multiple abiotic stresses, which would enhance the development of sustainable agriculture on marginal lands.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0126050
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 6 May 2015

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