In this study we show that expression of the Arabidopsis ABF4 gene in potato increases tuber yield under normal and abiotic stress conditions, improves storage capability and processing quality of the tubers, and enhances salt and drought tolerance.


Potato is the third most important food crop in the world. Potato plants are susceptible to salinity and drought, which negatively affect crop yield, tuber quality and market value. The development of new varieties with higher yields and increased tolerance to adverse environmental conditions is a main objective in potato breeding. In addition, tubers suffer from undesirable sprouting during storage that leads to major quality losses; therefore, the control of tuber sprouting is of considerable economic importance. ABF (ABRE-binding factor) proteins are bZIP transcription factors that regulate abscisic acid signaling during abiotic stress. ABF proteins also play an important role in the tuberization induction. We developed transgenic potato plants constitutively expressing the Arabidopsis ABF4 gene (35S::ABF4). In this study, we evaluated the performance of 35S::ABF4 plants grown in soil, determining different parameters related to tuber yield, tuber quality (carbohydrates content and sprouting behavior) and tolerance to salt and drought stress. Besides enhancing salt stress and drought tolerance, constitutive expression of ABF4 increases tuber yield under normal and stress conditions, enhances storage capability and improves the processing quality of the tubers.