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Researchers in China’s Xinjiang Province have recently identified AP2/ERF family genes from a desert moss that play important roles in plant stress response  

Syntrichia caninervis is a dominant desert moss in the Gurbantunggut desert of Northwestern China. This moss species has a comprehensive tolerances to stresses such as desiccation, elevated temperature, low temperature, and high radiation ,hence, it is a promising organism for the identification of stress-related genes . 

ZHANG Daoyuan from the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and his research group are interested in uncovering the genes behind the desert plants’ drought resistance capability. 

APETALA2/Ethylene Responsive Factor (AP2/ERF) is a large family of plant transcription factors which play important roles in the control of plant metabolism and development as well as responses to various biotic and abiotic stresses. 

ZHANG and her team identified 80 AP2/ERF unigenes in the desert moss S.caninervis. The 80 unigenes were then classified into three main subfamilies including AP2, ERF, RAV and two Soloist members. 

Previous studies have proved that DREB family genesa respond to drought, desiccation, osmotic stress, salt, low temperature (cold) and elevated temperature (heat) stresses and are good candidate genes for improving plant stress tolerance in crop plants. 

Further gene expression analysis showed thatScDREB genes showed different gene expression patterns and the majority of ScDREB genes demonstrated a stronger response to dehydration relative to rehydration, “indicating that ScDREBs may play an important role in dehydrated moss tissues,” according to ZHANG. 

This is the first time that scientists identify, classify, and characterize the AP2/ERF gene family in a moss species. It will lay foundation for further functional analysis of these genes, provide greater insight to the stress tolerance mechanisms in S. caninervis and provide a reference for AP2/ERF gene family classification in other moss species. 

The study was published with the titleof “Transcriptome-Wide Identification, Classification and Characterization of AP2/ERF Family Genes in the Desert Moss Syntrichia caninervis” on recent issue of Frontiers in Plant Science. 

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