De novo assembly and discovery of genes that are involved in drought tolerance in Tibetan Sophora moorcroftiana

Huie Li, Weijie Yao, Yaru Fu, Shaoke Li, Qiqiang Guo
PloS One 2015, 10 (1): e111054
Sophora moorcroftiana, a Leguminosae shrub species that is restricted to the arid and semi-arid regions of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, is an ecologically important foundation species and exhibits substantial drought tolerance in the Plateau. There are no functional genomics resources in public databases for understanding the molecular mechanism underlying the drought tolerance of S. moorcroftiana. Therefore, we performed a large-scale transcriptome sequencing of this species under drought stress using the Illumina sequencing technology. A total of 62,348,602 clean reads were obtained. The assembly of the clean reads resulted in 146,943 transcripts, including 66,026 unigenes. In the assembled sequences, 1534 transcription factors were identified and classified into 23 different common families, and 9040 SSR loci, from di- to hexa-nucleotides, whose repeat number is greater than five, were presented. In addition, we performed a gene expression profiling analysis upon dehydration treatment. The results indicated significant differences in the gene expression profiles among the control, mild stress and severe stress. In total, 4687, 5648 and 5735 genes were identified from the comparison of mild versus control, severe versus control and severe versus mild stress, respectively. Based on the differentially expressed genes, a Gene Ontology annotation analysis indicated many dehydration-relevant categories, including 'response to water 'stimulus' and 'response to water deprivation'. Meanwhile, the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway analysis uncovered some important pathways, such as 'metabolic pathways' and 'plant hormone signal transduction'. In addition, the expression patterns of 25 putative genes that are involved in drought tolerance resulting from quantitative real-time PCR were consistent with their transcript abundance changes as identified by RNA-seq. The globally sequenced genes covered a considerable proportion of the S. moorcroftiana transcriptome, and the expression results may be useful to further extend the knowledge on the drought tolerance of this plant species that survives under Plateau conditions.

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