Comparison of the physiological effects and transcriptome responses of Populus simonii under different abiotic stresses

Yuepeng Song, Dong Ci, Min Tian, Deqiang Zhang
Plant Molecular Biology 2014, 86 (1-2): 139-56
In the field, perennial plants such as poplar (Populus spp.) must adapt to simultaneous exposure to various abiotic stresses, which can affect their growth and survival. However, the mechanisms for stress-specific adaption in response to different abiotic stresses remain unclear. Thus, understanding the unique acclimation process for each abiotic treatment will require a comprehensive and systematic comparison of the responses of poplar to different abiotic stresses. To compare the responses to multiple stresses, we compared physiological effects and transcriptome changes in poplar under four abiotic stresses (salinity, osmotic, heat and cold). Photosynthesis and antioxidant enzymes changed significantly after 6 h abiotic stress treatment. Therefore, using 6 h abiotic stress treatment groups for transcriptome analysis, we identified a set of 863 differentially expressed genes (653 up-regulated and 210 down-regulated) common to osmotic, salinity, heat and cold treatment. We also identified genes specific to osmotic (1,739), salinity (1,222), cold (2,508) and heat (3,200), revealing that salinity stress has the fewest differently-expressed genes. After gene annotation, we found differences in expression of genes related to electron transport, stomatal control, antioxidant enzymes, cell wall alteration, and phytohormone biosynthesis and signaling in response to various abiotic stresses. This study provides new insights to improve our understanding of the mechanisms by which poplar adapts under different abiotic stress conditions and provides new clues for further studies.

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