Molecular Biotechnology

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 153–172 | Cite as

Ethylene Response Factor (ERF) Family Proteins in Abiotic Stresses and CRISPR–Cas9 Genome Editing of ERFs for Multiple Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Crop Plants: A Review

  • Johni Debbarma
  • Yogita N. Sarki
  • Banashree Saikia
  • Hari Prasanna Deka Boruah
  • Dhanawantari L. SinghaEmail author
  • Channakeshavaiah ChikkaputtaiahEmail author


Abiotic stresses such as extreme heat, cold, drought, and salt have brought alteration in plant growth and development, threatening crop yield and quality leading to global food insecurity. Many factors plays crucial role in regulating various plant growth and developmental processes during abiotic stresses. Ethylene response factors (ERFs) are AP2/ERF superfamily proteins belonging to the largest family of transcription factors known to participate during multiple abiotic stress tolerance such as salt, drought, heat, and cold with well-conserved DNA-binding domain. Several extensive studies were conducted on many ERF family proteins in plant species through over-expression and transgenics. However, studies on ERF family proteins with negative regulatory functions are very few. In this review article, we have summarized the mechanism and role of recently studied AP2/ERF-type transcription factors in different abiotic stress responses. We have comprehensively discussed the application of advanced ground-breaking genome engineering tool, CRISPR/Cas9, to edit specific ERFs. We have also highlighted our on-going and published R&D efforts on multiplex CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing of negative regulatory genes for multiple abiotic stress responses in plant and crop models. The overall aim of this review is to highlight the importance of CRISPR/Cas9 and ERFs in developing sustainable multiple abiotic stress tolerance in crop plants.


Ethylene response factor CRISPR/Cas9 technology Multiple abiotic stresses Negative regulatory genes Multiplex-multigene 



Ethylene response factor


Apetala 2


Super oxide dismutase


Clustered regulatory interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated protein 9


CRISPR-edited lines



The authors would like to acknowledge SERB-DST Govt. of India for the financial support to C. C. in the form of Ramanujan Fellowship (SB/S2/RJN-078/2014) and Early Career Research Award (ECR/2016/001288).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biotechnology Group, Biological Sciences and Technology DivisionCSIR-NEISTJorhatIndia
  2. 2.Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR)CSIR-NEISTJorhatIndia
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural BiotechnologyAssam Agriculture UniversityJorhatIndia

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