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Makhloufi E, Yousfi FE, Marande W, Mila I, Hanana M, Bergès H, Mzid R, Bouzayen M.

J Exp Bot. 2014


As food crop, wheat is of prime importance for human society. Nevertheless, our understanding of the genetic and molecular mechanisms controlling wheat productivity conditions has been, so far, hampered by the lack of sufficient genomic resources. The present work describes the isolation and characterization of TdERF1, an ERF gene from durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. subsp. durum). The structural features of TdERF1 supported the hypothesis that it is a novel member of the ERF family in durum wheat and, considering its close similarity to TaERF1 of Triticum aestivum, it probably plays a similar role in mediating responses to environmental stresses. TdERF1 displayed an expression pattern that discriminated between two durum wheat genotypes contrasted with regard to salt-stress tolerance. The high number of cis-regulatory elements related to stress responses present in the TdERF1 promoter and the ability of TdERF1 to regulate the transcription of ethylene and drought-responsive promoters clearly indicated its potential role in mediating plant responses to a wide variety of environmental constrains. TdERF1 was also regulated by abscisic acid, ethylene, auxin, and salicylic acid, suggesting that it may be at the crossroads of multiple hormone signalling pathways. Four TdERF1 allelic variants have been identified in durum wheat genome, all shown to be transcriptionally active. Interestingly, the expression of one allelic form is specific to the tolerant genotype, further supporting the hypothesis that this gene is probably associated with the susceptibility/tolerance mechanism to salt stress. In this regard, the TdERF1 gene may provide a discriminating marker between tolerant and sensitive wheat varieties.


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