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Title: Whole-transcriptome response to water stress in a California endemic oak, Quercus lobata

Author: Gugger, Paul F.; Peñaloza-Ramírez, Juan Manuel; Wright, Jessica W.; Sork, Victoria L.;

Date: 2016

Source: Tree Physiology

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Reduced water availability during drought can create major stress for many plant species. Within a species, populations with a history of seasonal drought may have evolved the ability to tolerate drought more than those in areas of high precipitation and low seasonality. In this study, we assessed response to water stress in a California oak species, Quercus lobata Née, by measuring changes in gene expression profiles before and after a simulated drought stress treatment through water deprivation of seedlings in a greenhouse setting. Using whole-transcriptome sequencing from nine samples from three collection localities, we identified which genes are involved in response to drought stress and tested the hypothesis that seedlings sampled from climatically different regions of the species range respond to water stress differently. We observed a surprisingly massive transcriptional response to drought: 35,347 of 68,434 contigs (52%) were differentially expressed before versus after drought treatment, of which 18,111 were down-regulated and 17,236 were up-regulated. Genes functionally associated with abiotic stresses and death were enriched among the up-regulated genes, whereas metabolic and cell part-related genes were enriched among the downregulated. We found 56 contigs that exhibited significantly different expression responses to the drought treatment among the three populations (treatment × population interaction), suggesting that those genes may be involved in local adaptation to drought stress. These genes have stress response (e.g., WRKY DNA-binding protein 51 and HSP20-like chaperones superfamily protein), metabolic (e.g., phosphoglycerate kinase and protein kinase superfamily protein), transport/transfer (e.g., cationic amino acid transporter 7 and K+ transporter) and regulatory functions (e.g., WRKY51 and Homeodomain-like transcriptional regulator). Baseline expression levels of 1310 unique contigs also differed among pairs of populations, and they were enriched for metabolic and cell part-related genes. Out of the large fraction of the transcriptome that was differentially expressed in response to our drought treatment, we identified several novel genes that are candidates for involvement in local adaptation to drought.

Keywords: drought, gene expression, local adaptation, Quercus, RNA-Seq

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Gugger, Paul F.; Peñaloza-Ramírez, Juan Manuel; Wright, Jessica W.; Sork, Victoria L.; 2016. Whole-transcriptome response to water stress in a California endemic oak, Quercus lobata. Tree Physiology.

 


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