Salt stress is one of the major environmental stresses in agriculture worldwide and affects crop productivity and quality. The development of crops with elevated levels of salt tolerance is therefore highly desirable. In the present study, a novel maspardin gene, named IbMas, was isolated from salt-tolerant sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) line ND98. IbMas contains maspardin domain and belongs to α/β-hydrolase superfamily. Expression of IbMas was up-regulated in sweetpotato under salt stress and ABA treatment. The IbMas-overexpressing sweetpotato (cv. Shangshu 19) plants exhibited significantly higher salt tolerance compared with the wild-type. Proline content was significantly increased, whereas malonaldehyde content was significantly decreased in the transgenic plants. The activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and photosynthesis were significantly enhanced in the transgenic plants. H2O2 was also found to be significantly less accumulated in the transgenic plants than in the wild-type. Overexpression of IbMas up-regulated the salt stress responsive genes, including pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthase, pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductase, SOD, psbA and phosphoribulokinase genes, under salt stress. These findings suggest that overexpression of IbMas enhances salt tolerance of the transgenic sweetpotato plants by regulating osmotic balance, protecting membrane integrity and photosynthesis and increasing reactive oxygen species scavenging capacity.
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© 2014 Liu et al.