Comprehensive analysis suggests overlapping expression of rice ONAC transcription factors in abiotic and biotic stress responses

Lijun Sun, Lei Huang, Yongbo Hong, Huijuan Zhang, Fengming Song, Dayong Li
International Journal of Molecular Sciences 2015, 16 (2): 4306-26
NAC (NAM/ATAF/CUC) transcription factors comprise a large plant-specific gene family that contains more than 149 members in rice. Extensive studies have revealed that NAC transcription factors not only play important roles in plant growth and development, but also have functions in regulation of responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. However, biological functions for most of the members in the NAC family remain unknown. In this study, microarray data analyses revealed that a total of 63 ONAC genes exhibited overlapping expression patterns in rice under various abiotic (salt, drought, and cold) and biotic (infection by fungal, bacterial, viral pathogens, and parasitic plants) stresses. Thirty-eight ONAC genes exhibited overlapping expression in response to any two abiotic stresses, among which 16 of 30 selected ONAC genes were upregulated in response to exogenous ABA. Sixty-five ONAC genes showed overlapping expression patterns in response to any two biotic stresses. Results from the present study suggested that members of the ONAC genes with overlapping expression pattern may have pleiotropic biological functions in regulation of defense response against different abiotic and biotic stresses, which provide clues for further functional analysis of the ONAC genes in stress tolerance and pathogen resistance.

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