Functional Identification and Characterization of Genes Cloned from Halophyte Seashore Paspalum Conferring Salinity and Cadmium Tolerance

Abstract

Salinity-affected and heavy metal-contaminated soils limit the growth of glycophytic plants. Identifying genes responsible for superior tolerance to salinity and heavy metals in halophytes has great potential for use in developing salinity- and Cd-tolerant glycophytes. The objective of this study was to identify salinity- and Cd-tolerance related genes in seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum), a halophytic perennial grass species, using yeast cDNA expression library screening method. Based on the Gateway-compatible vector system, a high-quality entry library was constructed, which contained 9.9 × 10(6) clones with an average inserted fragment length of 1.48 kb representing a 100% full-length rate. The yeast expression libraries were screened in a salinity-sensitive and a Cd-sensitive yeast mutant. The screening yielded 32 salinity-tolerant clones harboring 18 salinity-tolerance genes and 20 Cd-tolerant clones, including five Cd-tolerance genes. qPCR analysis confirmed that most of the 18 salinity-tolerance and five Cd-tolerance genes were up-regulated at the transcript level in response to salinity or Cd stress in seashore paspalum. Functional analysis indicated that salinity-tolerance genes from seashore paspalum could be involved mainly in photosynthetic metabolism, antioxidant systems, protein modification, iron transport, vesicle traffic, and phospholipid biosynthesis. Cd-tolerance genes could be associated with regulating pathways that are involved in phytochelatin synthesis, HSFA4-related stress protection, CYP450 complex, and sugar metabolism. The 18 salinity-tolerance genes and five Cd-tolerance genes could be potentially used as candidate genes for genetic modification of glycophytic grass species to improve salinity and Cd tolerance and for further analysis of molecular mechanisms regulating salinity and Cd tolerance.

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