Ammopiptanthus mongolicus stress-responsive NAC gene enhances the tolerance of transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana to drought and cold stresses

Abstract Drought and cold are the primary factors limiting plant growth worldwide. The Ammopiptanthus mongolicus NAC11 (AmNAC11) gene encodes a stress-responsive transcription factor. Expression of the AmNAC11 gene was induced by drought, cold and high salinity. The AmNAC11 protein was localized in the nucleus and plays an important role in tolerance to drought, cold and salt stresses. We also found that differential expression of AmNAC11 was induced in the early stages of seed germination and was related to root growth. When the AmNAC11 gene was introduced into Arabidopsis thaliana by an Agrobacterium-mediated method, the transgenic lines expressing AmNAC11 displayed significantly enhanced tolerance to drought and freezing stresses compared to wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana plants. These results indicated that over-expression of the AmNAC11 gene in Arabidopsis could significantly enhance its tolerance to drought and freezing stresses. Our study provides a promising approach to improve the tolerance of crop cultivars to abiotic stresses through genetic engineering.