News Release

New advances in integrating mechanisms of multiple stress response in conifers

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Nanjing Agricultural University The Academy of Science

The proper response to various abiotic stresses is essential for plants’ survival to overcome their sessile nature, especially for perennial trees with very long-life cycles. However, in conifers, the molecular mechanisms that coordinate multiple abiotic stress responses remain elusive.

This article has been published on Horticulture Research with title: An ethylene-induced NAC transcription factor acts as a multiple abiotic stress responsor in conifer.

Here, the transcriptome response to various abiotic stresses like salt, cold, drought, heat shock and osmotic were systematically detected in Pinus tabuliformis (P. tabuliformis) seedlings. We found that four transcription factors were commonly induced by all tested stress treatments, while PtNAC3 and PtZFP30 were highly up-regulated and co-expressed. Unexpectedly, the exogenous hormone treatment assays and the content of the endogenous hormone indicates that the upregulation of PtNAC3 and PtZFP30 are mediated by ethylene. Time-course assay showed that the treatment by ethylene immediate precursor, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC), activated the expression of PtNAC3 and PtZFP30 within 8 hours. We further confirm that the PtNAC3 can directly bind to the PtZFP30 promoter region and form a cascade. Overexpression of PtNAC3 enhanced unified abiotic stress tolerance without growth penalty in transgenic Arabidopsis, and promote reproductive success under abiotic stress by shortening the lifespan, suggesting it has great potential as a biological tool applied to plant breeding for abiotic stress tolerance.

This study provides novel insights into the hub nodes of the abiotic stress response network as well as the environmental adaptation mechanism in conifers, and provides a potential biofortification tool to enhance plant unified abiotic stress tolerance.




Fangxu Han, Peiyi Wang, Xi Chen, Huanhuan Zhao, Qianya Zhu, Yitong Song, Yumeng Nie, Yue Li, Meina Guo, Shihui Niu


Beijing Forestry University

About Shihui Niu

Professor Niu from Beijing Forestry University has extensive experience in conducting research on the genetic regulation of essential traits in conifers. In recent years, he has made substantial contributions to the field by applying genetic research strategies and methods to overcome the bottleneck of conifer giga-genomes assembly and gene annotation. He has also established a high-quality genetic information platform for Pinus tabuliformis, successfully solved several difficulties in the genetic analysis of important conifer traits, and expanded the research area focusing on the genetic regulation of conifer juvenility and reproduction. Professor Niu's research has advanced of the academic frontier in this field.

Now, Professor Niu serves as deputy director of the National Engineering Research Center of Tree Breeding and Ecological Restoration, deputy secretary general and standing member of the Pine Branch of the Chinese Society of forestry. He was selected as the national young top-notch talent of "Ten Thousand Talents Program", leading talent of forest and grassland and technology innovation of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA), outstanding young scholarship of "Beilin Scholars Program" of Beijing Forestry University, etc. He also served as an evaluation committee member of the General Project meeting of the Life Science Department which belongs to the National Natural Science Foundation of China. His research findings have been published in prestigious academic journals in the field of biology, such as Cell, Plant Physiology, Trends in Genetics, and New Phytologist. His achievements exert extensive influence in the scientific community. He has been awarded as the author of  "ESI Highly cited Papers", "Research Advances on Plant Science in China in 2015", "Achievements and Advances in the Plant Sciences Field China in 2021", "Ten Major Events in Forests and Grasslands Science and Technology in 2021", and "Ten Major Advances in Forests and Grasslands Science and Technology during the 13th Five-Year Plan Period", etc.

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