Methylglyoxal (MG), a cytotoxic oxygenated short aldehyde, is a by-product of various metabolic reactions in plants, including glycolysis. The basal level of MG in plants is low, whereby it acts as an essential signaling molecule regulating multiple cellular processes. However, hyperaccumulation of MG under stress conditions is detrimental for plants as it inhibits multiple developmental processes, including seed germination, photosynthesis, and root growth. The evolutionarily conserved glyoxalase system is critical for MG detoxification, and it comprises of two-enzymes, the glyoxalase-I and glyoxalase-II. Here, we report the functional characterization of six putative glyoxalase-I genes from date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) (PdGLX1), by studying their gene expression under various environmental stress conditions and investigating their function in bacteria (Escherichia coli) and yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) mutant cells. The putative PdGLX1 genes were initially identified using computational methods and cloned using molecular tools. The PdGLX1 gene expression analysis using quantitative PCR (qPCR) revealed differential expression under various stress conditions such as salinity, oxidative stress, and exogenous MG stress in a tissue-specific manner. Further, in vivo functional characterization indicated that overexpression of the putative PdGLX1 genes in E. coli enhanced their growth and MG detoxification ability. The putative PdGLX1 genes were also able to complement the loss-of-function MG hypersensitive GLO1 (YML004C) yeast mutants and promote growth by enhancing MG detoxification and reducing the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) under stress conditions as indicated by flow cytometry. These findings denote the potential importance of PdGLX1 genes in MG detoxification under stress conditions in the date palm.
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