Main conclusionA comprehensive account of the LBD gene family of Gossypium was provided in this work. Expression analysis and functional characterization revealed that LBD genes might play different roles in G. hirsutum and G. barbadense.AbstractThe Lateral Organ Boundaries Domain (LBD) proteins comprise a plant-specific transcription factor family, which plays crucial roles in physiological processes of plant growth, development, and stress tolerance. In the present work, a systematical analysis of LBD gene family from two allotetraploid cotton species, G. hirsutum and G. barbadense, together with their genomic donor species, G. arboreum and G. raimondii, was conducted. There were 131, 128, 62, and 68 LBDs identified in G. hirsutum, G. barbadense, G. arboreum and G. raimondii, respectively. The LBD proteins could be classified into two main classes, class I and class II, based on the structure of their lateral organ boundaries domain and traits of phylogenetic tree, and class I was further divided into five subgroups. The gene structure and motif composition analyses conducted in both G. hirsutum and G. barbadense revealed that LBD genes kept relatively conserved within the subfamilies. Synteny analysis suggested that segmental duplication acted as an important mechanism in expansion of the cotton LBD gene family. Cis-element analysis predicated the possible functions of LBD genes. Public RNA-seq data were investigated to analyze the expression patterns of cotton LBD genes in various tissues as well as gene expression under abiotic stress treatments. Furthermore, RT-qPCR results found that GhLBDs had various expression regulation under MeJA treatments. Expression analysis indicated the differential functions of cotton LBD genes in response to abiotic stress and hormones.