Molecular Breeding

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 1313–1323 | Cite as

Overexpression of a blueberry-derived CBF gene enhances cold tolerance in a southern highbush blueberry cultivar

  • Aaron E. Walworth
  • Lisa J. Rowland
  • James J. Polashock
  • James F. Hancock
  • Guo-qing Song


Blueberry cultivars are subject to freezing damage in the winter and early spring. C-repeat binding factor (CBF) genes are transcription factors known to induce the expression of genes associated with cold acclimation and freezing tolerance. A CBF-encoding gene (BB-CBF) was isolated from the northern highbush blueberry Bluecrop (a cold-tolerant cultivar) and introduced into the southern highbush blueberry Legacy (a more cold-sensitive cultivar) to determine the effects on cold tolerance. The BB-CBF coding sequence was linked to the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter and the 35S polyA terminator and was subsequently introduced into Legacy using Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of leaf explants. Fifty-seven transgenic events were obtained. Non-acclimated mature leaves, dormant flower buds, and flowers at various developmental stages from transformants and nontransgenic plants were subjected to electrolyte leakage assays over the course of 3 years, 2009–2011. Transgenic lines showed an increase in freezing tolerance in leaves and dormant buds. Expression of putative downstream components of the blueberry CBF regulon was increased in non-acclimated transgenic lines, and, in some cases, to a level similar to that of acclimated control plants. Following low temperature exposure, BB-CBF-overexpressing transgenics and controls expressed these genes at similar levels.


Cold tolerance C-repeat binding factor (CBF) gene Freezing tolerance Transgenic plant Vaccinium corymbosum Woody plant 



We thank Dr. Michael F. Thomashow for allowing us to use his laboratory facility for freezing tests. We also thank Michael Leasia for assisting with the freezing tests. This research was supported in part by a specific cooperative agreement between the USDA/ARS and MSU.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron E. Walworth
    • 1
  • Lisa J. Rowland
    • 2
  • James J. Polashock
    • 3
  • James F. Hancock
    • 1
  • Guo-qing Song
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Horticulture, Plant Biotechnology Resource and Outreach CenterMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables LabUSDA-ARSBeltsvilleUSA
  3. 3.Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables LabUSDA-ARSChatsworthUSA

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