Germin-like proteins (GLPs) are ubiquitous plant glycoproteins (belonging to the cupin super family) that play diverse roles, including abiotic stress resistance in many plant species. To identify the molecular functions underlying abiotic stress responses, the expression of germin-like protein encoding genes of soybean GmGLPs was analyzed. qRT-PCR analyses of 21 GmGLPs transcripts abundances were conducted in soybean leave tissues. The results showed that GmGLPs transcripts were highly abundant upon treatments with high salinity, PEG6000, abscisic acid (ABA) and methyl viologen (MV). The peaks of transcript copiousness induced by PEG6000 and NaCl were mostly observed after 18 h, while some genes expressed earlier than 4 h after abiotic stress treatment. A specific GmGLP7 gene, that was highly abundant under salinity, drought, ABA and MV conditions, was further characterized. The ectopic overexpression of GmGLP7 (Glyma.08G226800.1) in transgenic Arabidopsis enhanced drought, salt, and oxidative tolerance and resulted in hypersensitive phenotypes toward ABA-mediated seed germination and primary root elongation, compared to the wild-type. Taken together, these results suggest that GmGLP7 positively confers abiotic tolerance in plants.
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