Recent studies on salinity tolerance in date palm revealed the discovery of salt-responsive genes including PdPIP1;2, a highly conserved aquaporin gene in plants, which was functionally characterized in this study to investigate its precise role in drought and salinity tolerance. Immunoblot assay showed a high level of PIP1 protein accumulation only in the leaves of date palm plants when grown under drought, an observation which may imply the involvement of PIP1;2 in CO2 uptake. Heterologous overexpression of PdPIP1;2 in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) improved tolerance to salinity and oxidative stress. While, heterologous overexpression of PdPIP1;2 in Arabidopsis had significantly (p < 0.05) increased biomass, chlorophyll content, and root length under drought and salinity. In addition, a significantly (p < 0.05) higher percentage of transgenic plants could be recovered by rewatering after drought stress, indicating the ability of the transgenic plants to maintain water and viability under drought. Transgenic plants under drought and salinity maintained significantly (p < 0.05) higher K+/Na+ ratios than wild type (WT) plants, an observation which may represent an efficient tolerance mechanism controlled by the transgene. Collectively, this study provided an insight on the mechanism by which PdPIP1;2 conferred tolerance to salt and drought stresses in date palm.
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