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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Marc Knight

Wathugala, D.L., Richards, S.A., Knight, H. & Knight, M.R. (2011). OsSFR6 is a functional rice orthologue of SENSITIVE TO FREEZING-6 and can act as a regulator of COR gene expression, osmotic stress and freezing tolerance in Arabidopsis. New Phytologist 191(4): 984-995.

Author(s) from Durham


The Arabidopsis protein SENSITIVE TO FREEZING-6 (AtSFR6) is required for cold- and drought-inducible expression of COLD-ON REGULATED (COR) genes and, as a consequence, AtSFR6 is essential for osmotic stress and freezing tolerance in Arabidopsis. Therefore, orthologues of AtSFR6 in crop species represent important candidate targets for future manipulation of stress tolerance. We identified and cloned a homologue of AtSFR6 from rice (Oryza sativa), OsSFR6, and confirmed its orthology in Arabidopsis. OsSFR6 was identified by homology searches, and a full-length coding region isolated using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from Oryza sativa cDNA. To test for orthology, OsSFR6 was expressed in an Arabidopsis sfr6 loss-of-function mutant background, and restoration of wild-type phenotypes was assessed. Searching the rice genome revealed a single homologue of AtSFR6. Cloning and sequencing the OsSFR6 coding region showed OsSFR6 to have 61.7% identity and 71.1% similarity to AtSFR6 at the predicted protein sequence level. Expression of OsSFR6 in the atsfr6 mutant background restored the wild-type visible phenotype, as well as restoring wild-type levels of COR gene expression and tolerance of osmotic and freezing stresses. OsSFR6 is an orthologue of AtSFR6, and thus a target for future manipulation to improve tolerance to osmotic and other abiotic stresses.