In an attempt to improve stress tolerance of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) plants, an expression vector containing an Arabidopsis C-repeat/dehydration responsive element binding factor 1 (CBF1) cDNA driven by a cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter was transferred into tomato plants. Transgenic expression of CBF1 was proved by northern- and western-blot analyses. The degree of chilling tolerance of transgenic T1 and T2 plants was found to be significantly greater than that of wild-type tomato plants as measured by survival rate, chlorophyll fluorescence value, and radical elongation. The transgenic tomato plants exhibited patterns of growth retardation; however, they resumed normal growth after GA3 (gibberellic acid) treatment. More importantly, GA3-treated transgenic plants still exhibited a greater degree of chilling tolerance compared with wild-type plants. Subtractive hybridization was performed to isolate the responsive genes of heterologous Arabidopsis CBF1 in transgenic tomato plants. CATALASE1 (CAT1) was obtained and showed activation in transgenic tomato plants. The CAT1 gene and catalase activity were also highly induced in the transgenic tomato plants. The level of H2O2 in the transgenic plants was lower than that in the wild-type plants under either normal or cold conditions. The transgenic plants also exhibited considerable tolerance against oxidative damage induced by methyl viologen. Results from the current study suggest that heterologous CBF1 expression in transgenic tomato plants may induce several oxidative-stress responsive genes to protect from chilling stress.
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