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The levels of drought tolerance and nucleotide polymorphism at the CBF4 locus were examined in a world-wide sample of 17 core accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana. The results showed that different accessions exhibited considerable differences in adaptation to drought stress. Compared with Columbia accession, the frequency of nucleotide polymorphism at the CBF4 locus of 25av, 203av and 244av accessions, including single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and insertion/deletion (Indel), was high, on average 1 SNP per 35.8 bp and 1 Indel per 143 bp. No significance in all regions of Tajima's D test indicated that the neutral mutation hypothesis could explain the nucleotide polymorphism in this CBF4 gene region. The higher polymorphism was the result of purification selection. Nucleotide polymorphism in the non-coding region was three times higher than in the coding region. This might indicate a recent relaxation of selection pressures on the non-coding region of CBF4 gene. In the coding region of CBF4, SNP frequency was 1 SNP per 96.4 bp and one non-synonymous mutation was detected from 25av, 203av and 244av accessions: the amino acid variation gly↔val at position 205, caused by the nucleotide variation G↔T at position 1034 (corresponding to the nucleotide at position 19 696 of GenBank accession no. AB015478 as 1). Furthermore, four differential SNPs were discovered in haplotype 6 constituted by 203av, one of them located in the 3′ non-coding region (A↔C at position 1106) and the others in the 5′ non-coding region (A↔G, A↔C and G↔A at positions 27, 129 and 171, respectively). The drought tolerance assay indicated that accession 203av was the best at tolerating water deficiency. We propose that haplotype 6 is consistent with its drought tolerance.
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