Abiotic stress significantly impacts growth and yield of crop plants. It is imperative for crop improvement to discover and utilize stress-tolerant functional genes. In this study, genes responding to abiotic stresses, such as freezing, salt and osmotic stress, were screened from a cDNA yeast library that was constructed from the drought- and heat-tolerant wheat variety Hanxuan 10. After screening for surviving clones we isolated 7,249, 4,313 and 4,469 raw sequences, corresponding to 4,695, 2,641 and 2,771 genes following each treatment. Venn diagrams revealed 377 overlapping genes. GO analysis suggested that these genes were mainly involved in the metabolic and stress signal pathways. KEGG pathway enrichment analysis indicated that the isolated genes predominantly belonged to pathways concerning energy and metabolism. Overlapping gene TaPR-1-1 within the pathogenesis-related (PR) protein family was selected for detailed characterization. Although previous studies had shown that PR genes function during pathogen attack, our results demonstrated that TaPR-1-1 expression was also induced by freezing, salinity, and osmotic stresses. Overexpression in yeast and Arabidopsis showed that TaPR-1-1 conferred tolerance to these stresses. We concluded that screening cDNA yeast libraries following abiotic stress is an efficient way to identify stress-tolerance genes.
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