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Cong Li, Lie-Bao Han and Xunzhong Zhang

Drought stress is one of the major limiting factors for plant growth and development. The mechanism of drought tolerance has not been well understood. This study was designed to investigate proline and antioxidant metabolism associated with drought tolerance in transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plants overexpressing the OjERF gene relative to wild-type (WT) plants. The OjERF gene was isolated from mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus). The OjERF gene, driven by the CaMV35S promoter, was introduced into tobacco through agrobacterium (Agrobacterium tumefaciens)-mediated transformation. Five transgenic lines were regenerated, of which transgenic Line 5 (GT5) and Line 6 (GT6) were used to examine drought tolerance in comparison with WT plants in a growth chamber. Drought stress caused an increase in leaf malondialdehyde (MDA) and electrolyte leakage (EL), proline content, superoxide dismutase (SOD), and catalase (CAT) activity in both transgenic lines and WT plants. However, the transgenic lines had lower MDA content and EL and higher proline content, SOD and CAT activity relative to WT under drought stress. The activities of SOD and CAT were also greater in the transgenic lines relative to WT plants under well-watered conditions (Day 0). The OjERF activated the expression of stress-relative genes, including NtERD10B, NtERD10C, NtERF5, NtSOD, and NtCAT1 in tobacco plants. The results of this study suggest that the OjERF gene may confer drought stress tolerance through upregulating proline and antioxidant metabolism.

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Ying Li, Liyi Zhang, Zhen Zhang, Peihua Cong and Zong-Ming Cheng

Alternaria alternata apple pathotype (previously A. mali) causes alternaria blotch disease of apple (Malus ×domestica), which may result in leaf spots and up to 70% premature leaf drop in serious cases. This disease is of worldwide importance but is most serious in eastern Asia (Japan, Korea, and China) and in parts of the United States. The excessive use of fungicides not only adds cost to apple growers, but also pollutes the environment. In this study, we characterized a 5-year F1 population from a cross of a resistant cultivar (Huacui) and a susceptible cultivar (Golden Delicious) consisting of 110 individuals along with 14-year-old parent trees (10 each). A field evaluation of disease severity was conducted in 2008 and 2009 under the natural conditions in Liaoning, China (lat. 40°37′ N, long. 120°44′ E). Based on the field data, 110 F1 plants were divided into five groups. Artificial inoculation was carried out both on the living trees and on the detached leaves in 2009 to ensure that A. alternata apple pathotype was the causative agent. Eighty primer pairs of simple sequence repeat (SSR) were screened against the four genomic DNA pools, respectively, from six highly susceptible F1 plants, six most resistant F1 plants, one tree of the seed parent, and the one tree of the pollen parent. One pair of primers (CH05g07) was shown to be linked to the DNA pools of susceptible F1 and the parent tree, but not to the DNA pools of resistant F1 and parent trees. This primer pair was then used to screen all individual 110 F1 progenies and two parent trees. The differentiation of 103 individuals (97.3%) with the marker matched the field disease resistance rating. This marker was further screened with 20 cultivars with known susceptibility or resistance to A. alternata apple pathotype and its linkage to susceptibility was validated. These results suggest that this marker can be used in marker-assisted selection for resistance/susceptibility to alternaria blotch disease in apple.

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Chun-Yan Han, Gui-Fen Luo, Li Ji, Wei-Bang Sun, Xu-Yang Fu and Cong-Ren Li

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Ji Tian, Ke-ting Li, Shi-ya Zhang, Jie Zhang, Ting-ting Song, Yong-jun Zhu and Yun-cong Yao

Anthocyanins are protective pigments that accumulate in plant organs such as fruits and leaves, and are nutritionally valuable components of the human diet. The MYB10 transcription factor (TF) plays an important role in regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis in Malus crabapple leaves. However, little is known about how the promoter regulates McMYB10 expression and influences the substantial variation in leaf anthocyanin accumulation and coloration that is observed in different crabapple cultivars. In this study, we analyzed leaf coloration, anthocyanin levels, and the expression levels of McMYB10 in the leaves of 15 crabapple cultivars with three leaf colors at various development stages, and showed that the expression of McMYB10 correlates positively with anthocyanin accumulation. We also examined the relationship between the number of R6 and R1 elements in the McMYB10 promoters of the different cultivars and the pigmentation of the new buds of spring-red cultivars, as well as the methylation level of the McMYB10 promoters at different development stages in three representative crabapple cultivars. The ratio of R6/R1 minisatellites in the promoters correlated with the color and anthocyanin accumulation in new crabapple buds, and we concluded that the differences in promoter structure and methylation level of the McMYB10 promoters coordinately affect the leaf color of crabapple cultivars.