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J Integr Plant Biol
SlSTE1 promotes abscisic acid‐dependent salt stress‐responsive pathways via improving ion homeostasis and reactive oxygen species scavenging in tomato
Xiaoqing Meng1, 2†, Jing Cai1, 2†, Lei Deng3, Ge Li1, 2, Jian Sun1, 2, Yonghua Han1, 2, Tingting Dong1, 2, Yang Liu1, 2, Tao Xu1, 2, Siyuan Liu1, 2, Zongyun Li1, 2* and Mingku Zhu1, 2*
1Institute of Integrative Plant Biology, School of Life Sciences, Jiangsu Normal University, Xuzhou 221116, China
2Jiangsu Key laboratory of Phylogenomics & Comparative Genomics, School of Life Sciences, Jiangsu Normal University, Xuzhou 221116, China
3State Key Laboratory of Plant Genomics, National Centre for Plant Gene Research (Beijing), Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China

These authors contributed equally to this work.
*Correspondences: Zongyun Li (; Mingku Zhu (, Dr. Zhu is fully responsible for material distributions) 
doi: 10.1111/jipb.12987

High salinity is one of the major limiting factors that reduces crop productivity and quality. Herein, we report that small SALT TOLERANCE ENHANCER1 (STE1) protein without any known conserved domains is required for tomato salt tolerance. Overexpression (OE) of SlSTE1 enhanced the tolerance to multiple chloride salts (NaCl, KCl, and LiCl) and oxidative stress, along with elevated antioxidant enzyme activities, increased abscisic acid (ABA) and chlorophyll contents, and reduced malondialdehyde (MDA) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulations compared to that of wild‐type (WT) plants. Moreover, decreased K+ efflux and increased H+ efflux were detected in the OE plants, which induced a higher K+/Na+ ratio. In contrast, SlSTE1‐RNAi plants displayed decreased tolerance to salt stress. RNA‐seq data revealed 1 330 differentially expressed genes in the OE plants versus WT plants under salt stress, and the transcription of numerous and diverse genes encoding transcription factors, stress‐related proteins, secondary metabolisms, kinases, and hormone synthesis/signaling‐related proteins (notably ABA and 1‐aminocyclopropane‐1‐carboxylate) was greatly elevated. Furthermore, SlSTE1‐OE plants showed increased sensitivity to ABA, and the results suggest that SlSTE1 promotes ABA‐dependent salt stress‐responsive pathways by interacting with SlPYLs and SlSnRK2s. Collectively, our findings reveal that the small SlSTE1 protein confers salt tolerance via ABA signaling and ROS scavenging and improves ion homeostasis in tomato.

Received: 19 May 2020      Accepted:    Online on:03 July 2020
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