Improved reactive aldehyde, salt and cadmium tolerance of transgenic barley due to the expression of aldo–keto reductase genes

Csaba Éva, Ádám Solti, Mária Oszvald, Rita Tömösközi-Farkas, Bettina Nagy, Gábor V. Horváth, László Tamás

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Under various stress conditions, plant cells are exposed to oxidative damage which triggers lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxide breakdown products include protein crosslinking reactive aldehydes. These are highly damaging to living cells. Stress-protective aldo–keto reductase (AKR) enzymes are able to recognise and modify these molecules, reducing their toxicity. AKRs not only modify reactive aldehydes but may synthesize osmoprotective sugar alcohols as well. The role of these mixed function enzymes was investigated under direct reactive aldehyde, heavy metal and salt stress conditions. Transgenic barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) plants constitutively expressing AKR enzymes derived from either thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) (AKR4C9) or alfalfa (Medicago sativa) (MsALR) were studied. Not only AKR4C9 but MsALR expressing plants were also found to produce more sorbitol than the non-transgenic (WT) barley. Salinity tolerance of genetically modified (GM) plants improved, presumably as a consequence of the enhanced sorbitol content. The MsALR enzyme expressing line (called 51) exhibited almost no symptoms of salt stress. Furthermore, both transgenes were shown to increase reactive aldehyde (glutaraldehyde) tolerance. Transgenic plants also exhibited better cadmium tolerance compared to WT, which was considered to be an effect of the reduction of reactive aldehyde molecules. Transgenic barley expressing either thale cress or alfalfa derived enzyme showed improved heavy metal and salt tolerance. Both can be explained by higher detoxifying and sugar alcohol producing activity. Based on the presented data, we consider AKRs as very effective stress-protective enzymes and their genes provide promising tools in the improvement of crops through gene technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number99
JournalActa Physiologiae Plantarum
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Heavy metal
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Salt stress
  • Sorbitol
  • Transgenic plant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

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