Heat shock transcription factor (Hsf) is one of key regulators in plant abotic stress response. Although the Hsf gene family has been identified from several plant species, original and evolution relationship have been fragmented. In addition, tea, an important crop, genome sequences have been completed and function of the Hsf family genes in response to abiotic stresses was not illuminated. In this study, a total of 4208 Hsf proteins were identified within 163 plant species from green algae (Gonium pectorale
) to angiosperm (monocots and dicots), which were distributed unevenly into each of plant species tested. The result indicated that Hsf originated during the early evolutionary history of chlorophytae algae and genome-wide genetic varies had occurred during the course of evolution in plant species. Phylogenetic classification of Hsf genes from the representative nine plant species into ten subfamilies, each of which contained members from different plant species, imply that gene duplication had occurred during the course of evolution. In addition, based on RNA-seq data, the member of the Hsfs showed different expression levels in the different organs and at the different developmental stages in tea. Expression patterns also showed clear differences among Camellia
species, indicating that regulation of Hsf genes expression varied between organs in a species-specific manner. Furthermore, expression of most Hsfs in response to drought, cold and salt stresses, imply a possible positive regulatory role under abiotic stresses. Expression profiles of nineteen Hsf genes in response to heat stress were also analyzed by quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Several stress-responsive Hsf genes were highly regulated by heat stress treatment. In conclusion, these results lay a solid foundation for us to elucidate the evolutionary origin of plant Hsfs and Hsf functions in tea response to abiotic stresses in the future.
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