Low temperature is a common biological abiotic stress in major cotton growing areas. Cold stress significantly affects the growth, yield and yield quality of cotton. Therefore, it is important to develop a more robust and cold stress tolerant cotton germplasms. Climate change and erratic climatic condition, plants have evolved various survival mechanisms, one of which induction of various stress responsive transcriptome factors, such as the C-repeat binding factor GthCBF4, which have been found to enhance cold tolerance in various plants. In this study detailed evaluation of the cotton C-repeat binding factor has been carried out. A total of29, 28, 25, 21, 30, 26 and 15 proteins encoded by the C-repeat binding factor were identified in G. herbaceum, G. arboreum, G. thurberi, G. raimondii, G. turneri, G. longicalyx and G. australe, respectively. Phylogeny evaluation revealed that the proteins were grouped into seven clades, with clade 1 and 6 being the largest. Moreover, majority of the proteins encoded by the genes were predicted to be located within. the nucleus, while some are distributed in other parts of the cell. Based on the transcriptome and RT-qPCR analysis, Gthu17439 (GthCBF4) was highly upregulated and was further validated through forward genetics. The Gthu17439 (GthCBF4) overexpressed plants showed a significantly tolerance to cold stress, with higher growth vigour compared to the wild types. The results showed that the Gthu17439 (GthCBF4) could be playing a significant role in enhancing cold stress tolerance in cotton and can be further exploited in developing a more cold stress tolerance cotton germplasm
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