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  2. SENSITIVE TO FREEZING2 (SFR2) is crucial for protecting chloroplast membranes following freezing in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). It has been shown that SFR2 homologs are present in all land plants, including freezing-sensitive species, raising the question of SFR2 function beyond freezing tolerance. Similar to freezing, salt and drought can cause dehydration. Thus, it is hypothesized that in freezing-sensitive plants SFR2 may play roles in their resilience to salt or drought. To test this hypothesis, SlSFR2 RNAi lines were generated in the cold/freezing-sensitive species tomato (Solanum lycopersicum [M82 cv]). Hypersensitivity to salt and drought of SlSFR2-RNAi lines was observed. Higher tolerance ofmore » wild-type tomatoes was correlated with the production of trigalactosyldiacylglycerol, a product of SFR2 activity. Tomato SFR2 in vitro activity is Mg 2+-dependent and its optimal pH is 7.5, similar to that of Arabidopsis SFR2, but the specific activity of tomato SFR2 in vitro is almost double that of Arabidopsis SFR2. When salt and drought stress were applied to Arabidopsis, no conditions could be identified at which SFR2 was induced prior to irreversibly impacting plant growth, suggesting that SFR2 protects Arabidopsis primarily against freezing. Discovery of tomato SFR2 function in drought and salt resilience provides further insights into general membrane lipid remodeling-based stress tolerance mechanisms and together with protection against freezing in freezing-resistant plants such as Arabidopsis, it adds lipid remodeling as a possible target for the engineering of abiotic stress-resilient crops.« less

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