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Structural variation, functional differentiation and expression characteristics of the AP2/ERF gene family and its response to cold stress and methyl jasmonate in Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer

By Jing Chen, Yuanhang Zhou, Qi Zhang, Li Li, Chunyu Sun, Kangyu Wang, Yanfang Wang, Mingzhu Zhao, Hongjie Li, Yilai Han, Ping Chen, Ruiqi Li, Jun Lei, Meiping Zhang, Yi Wang

Posted 20 Nov 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/850164 (published DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226055)

The APETALA2/Ethylene Responsive Factor (AP2/ERF) gene family has been shown to play a crucial role in plant growth and development, stress responses and secondary metabolite biosynthesis. Nevertheless, little is known about the gene family in ginseng ( Panax ginseng ), an important traditional medicinal herb in Asia and North America. Here, we report the systematic analysis of the gene family present in ginseng using several transcriptomic databases. A total of 189 putative AP2/ERF genes, defined as PgERF001 through PgERF189 . The 93 PgERF genes that have the complete AP2 domain in their open reading frames were classified into five subfamilies, DREB, ERF, AP2, RAV and Soloist. The DREB subfamily and ERF subfamily were further clustered four and six groups, respectively, compared to the 12 groups of these subfamilies found in Arabidopsis. Gene ontology categorized these 397 transcripts of the 189 PgERF genes into eight functional subcategories, suggesting their functional differentiation and they have been especially enriched for the nucleic acid binding transcription factor activity subcategory. The expression activity and networks of the 397 PgERF transcripts have substantially diversified across tissues, developmental stages and genotypes. Then, the expression change of six PgERF genes randomly selected from DREB subfamily, i.e., PgERF073 , PgERF079 , PgERF110 , PgERF115 , PgERF120 and PgERF128 responding to cold stress suggesting that DREB subfamily genes played an important role in cold resistance of ginseng. Finally, we studied the responses of the PgERF genes to methyl jasmonate (MeJA). 288 (72.5%) of the 397 PgERF gene transcripts responded to the MeJA treatment, with 136 up-regulated and 152 down-regulated, indicating that most members of the PgERF gene family are responsive to MeJA. These results provide resources and knowledge necessary for family-wide functional analysis of the PgERF genes in ginseng and related species.

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