The homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip) gene family, as plant-specific transcription factors, plays an important role in plant development and growth as well as in the response to diverse stresses. Although HD-Zip genes have been extensively studied in many plants, they had not yet been studied in wheat, especially those involved in response to abiotic stresses. In this study, 46 wheat HD-Zip genes were identified using a genome-wide search method. Phylogenetic analysis classified these genes into four groups, numbered 4, 5, 17 and 20 respectively. In total, only three genes with A, B and D homoeologous copies were identified. Furthermore, the gene interaction networks found that the TaHDZ
genes played a critical role in the regulatory pathway of organ development and osmotic stress. Finally, the expression profiles of the wheat HD-Zips in different tissues and under various abiotic stresses were investigated using the available RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) data and then validated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) to obtain the tissue-specific and stress-responsive candidates. This study systematically identifies the HD-Zip gene family in wheat at the genome-wide level, providing important candidates for further functional analysis and contributing to the better understanding of the molecular basis of development and stress tolerance in wheat.
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