Comparative analysis of drought-responsive transcriptome in Indica rice genotypes with contrasting drought tolerance

Sangram K Lenka, Amit Katiyar, Viswanathan Chinnusamy, Kailash C Bansal
Plant Biotechnology Journal 2011, 9 (3): 315-27
Genetic improvement in drought tolerance in rice is the key to save water for sustainable agriculture. Drought tolerance is a complex trait and involves interplay of a vast array of genes. Several genotypes of rice have evolved features that impart tolerance to drought and other abiotic stresses. Comparative analysis of drought stress-responsive transcriptome between drought-tolerant (DT) landraces/genotypes and drought-sensitive modern rice cultivars will unravel novel genetic regulatory mechanisms involved in stress tolerance. Here, we report transcriptome analysis in a highly DT rice landrace, Nagina 22 (N22), versus a high-yielding but drought-susceptible rice variety IR64. Both genotypes exhibited a diverse global transcriptional response under normal and drought conditions. Gene ontology (GO) analysis suggested that drought tolerance of N22 was attributable to the enhanced expression of several enzyme-encoding genes. Drought susceptibility of IR64 was attributable to significant down-regulation of regulatory components that confer drought tolerance. Pathway analysis unravelled significant up-regulation of several components of carbon fixation, glycolysis/gluconeogenesis and flavonoid biosynthesis and down-regulation of starch and sucrose metabolism in both the cultivars under drought. However, significant up-regulation of α-linolenic acid metabolic pathway observed in N22 under drought appears to be in good agreement with high drought tolerance of this genotype. Consensus cis-motif profiling of drought-induced co-expressed genes led to the identification of novel cis-motifs. Taken together, the results of the comparative transcriptome analysis led to the identification of specific genotype-dependent genes responsible for drought tolerance in the rice landrace N22.

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