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Article|20 Jun 2023|OPEN
An ethylene-induced NAC transcription factor acts as a multiple abiotic stress responsor in conifer
Fangxu Han1 ,† , Peiyi Wang1 ,† , Xi Chen1 , Huanhuan Zhao1 , Qianya Zhu1 , Yitong Song1 , Yumeng Nie1 , Yue Li1 , Meina Guo1 , and Shihui Niu,1 ,
1National Engineering Research Center of Tree Breeding and Ecological Restoration, College of Biological Sciences and Technology, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:,
Both authors contributed equally to the study.

Horticulture Research 10,
Article number: uhad130 (2023)
Views: 114

Received: 15 Apr 2023
Accepted: 13 Jun 2023
Published online: 20 Jun 2023


The proper response to various abiotic stresses is essential for plants' survival to overcome their sessile nature, especially for perennial trees with very long-life cycles. However, in conifers, the molecular mechanisms that coordinate multiple abiotic stress responses remain elusive. Here, the transcriptome response to various abiotic stresses like salt, cold, drought, heat shock and osmotic were systematically detected in Pinus tabuliformis (P. tabuliformis) seedlings. We found that four transcription factors were commonly induced by all tested stress treatments, while PtNAC3 and PtZFP30 were highly up-regulated and co-expressed. Unexpectedly, the exogenous hormone treatment assays and the content of the endogenous hormone indicates that the upregulation of PtNAC3 and PtZFP30 are mediated by ethylene. Time-course assay showed that the treatment by ethylene immediate precursor, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC), activated the expression of PtNAC3 and PtZFP30 within 8 hours. We further confirm that the PtNAC3 can directly bind to the PtZFP30 promoter region and form a cascade. Overexpression of PtNAC3 enhanced unified abiotic stress tolerance without growth penalty in transgenic Arabidopsis and promoted reproductive success under abiotic stress by shortening the lifespan, suggesting it has great potential as a biological tool applied to plant breeding for abiotic stress tolerance. This study provides novel insights into the hub nodes of the abiotic stresses response network as well as the environmental adaptation mechanism in conifers, and provides a potential biofortification tool to enhance plant unified abiotic stress tolerance.