Profiling changes in gene expression by RNA-Seq during drought and recovery in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum Alamo AP13)
ABSTRACT: In light of the changes in precipitation and soil water availability expected with climate change, understanding the mechanisms underlying plant responses to water deficit is essential. Toward that end we have conducted an integrative analysis of responses to drought stress in the perennial C4 grass and biofuel crop, Panicum virgatum (switchgrass). Responses to soil drying and re-watering were measured at transcriptional, physiological, and metabolomic levels. To assess the interaction of soil moisture with diel light:dark cycles, we profiled gene expression in drought and control treatments under pre-dawn and mid-day conditions. Soil drying resulted in reduced leaf water potential, gas exchange, and chlorophyll fluorescence along with differential expression of a large fraction of the transcriptome (37%). Many transcripts responded differently depending on time of day (e.g. up-regulation pre-dawn and down-regulation mid-day). Genes associated with C4 photosynthesis were down-regulated during drought, while C4 metabolic intermediates accumulated. Rapid changes in gene expression were observed during recovery from drought, along with increased water use efficiency and chlorophyll fluorescence. Our findings demonstrate that drought responsive gene expression depends strongly on time of day and that gene expression is extensively modified during the first few hours of drought recovery. Analysis of covariation in gene expression, metabolite abundance, and physiology among plants revealed non-linear relationships that suggest critical thresholds in drought stress responses. Future studies may benefit from evaluating these thresholds among diverse accessions of switchgrass and other C4 grasses. mRNA profiles of leaf tissue from clonal replicates at various time points during drydown and recovery were generated by deep sequencing 3' mRNA tags using SOLiD.
Project description:BACKGROUND: In light of the changes in precipitation and soil water availability expected with climate change, understanding the mechanisms underlying plant responses to water deficit is essential. Toward that end we have conducted an integrative analysis of responses to drought stress in the perennial C4 grass and biofuel crop, Panicum virgatum (switchgrass). Responses to soil drying and re-watering were measured at transcriptional, physiological, and metabolomic levels. To assess the interaction of soil moisture with diel light: dark cycles, we profiled gene expression in drought and control treatments under pre-dawn and mid-day conditions. RESULTS: Soil drying resulted in reduced leaf water potential, gas exchange, and chlorophyll fluorescence along with differential expression of a large fraction of the transcriptome (37%). Many transcripts responded differently depending on time of day (e.g. up-regulation pre-dawn and down-regulation mid-day). Genes associated with C4 photosynthesis were down-regulated during drought, while C4 metabolic intermediates accumulated. Rapid changes in gene expression were observed during recovery from drought, along with increased water use efficiency and chlorophyll fluorescence. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate that drought responsive gene expression depends strongly on time of day and that gene expression is extensively modified during the first few hours of drought recovery. Analysis of covariation in gene expression, metabolite abundance, and physiology among plants revealed non-linear relationships that suggest critical thresholds in drought stress responses. Future studies may benefit from evaluating these thresholds among diverse accessions of switchgrass and other C4 grasses.
Project description:Transgenic Populus tremula x alba (717-1B4) plants with reduced expression of a tonoplast sucrose efflux transporter, PtaSUT4, exhibit reduced shoot growth compared to wild type (WT) under sustained mild drought. The present study was undertaken to determine whether SUT4-RNAi directly or indirectly altered poplar predisposition and/or response to changes in soil water availability. While sucrose and hexose levels were constitutively elevated in shoot organs, expression responses to drought were most altered in the root tips of SUT4-RNAi plants. Prior to any drought treatment, constitutively elevated transcript levels of abscisic acid biosynthetic genes and bark/vegetative storage proteins suggested altered metabolism in root tips of RNAi plants. Stronger drought-stimulation of stress-inducible genes encoding late-embryogenesis-abundant proteins in transgenic roots was consistent with increased vulnerability to soil drying. Transcript evidence suggested an RNAi effect on intercellular water trafficking by aquaporins in stem xylem during soil drying and recovery. Co-expression network analysis predicted altered integration of abscisic acid sensing/signaling with ethylene and jasmonate sensing/signaling in RNAi compared to WT roots. The overall conclusion is that steepened shoot-root sugar gradient in RNAi plants increased sensitivity of root tips to decreasing soil water availability.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a warm-season C4 grass that is a target lignocellulosic biofuel species. In many regions, drought stress is one of the major limiting factors for switchgrass growth. The objective of this study was to evaluate the drought tolerance of 49 switchgrass genotypes. The relative drought stress tolerance was determined based on a set of parameters including plant height, leaf length, leaf width, leaf sheath length, leaf relative water content (RWC), electrolyte leakage (EL), photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (g s), transpiration rate (Tr), intercellular CO2 concentration (Ci), and water use efficiency (WUE). RESULTS: SRAP marker analysis determined that the selected 49 switchgrass genotypes represent a diverse genetic pool of switchgrass germplasm. Principal component analysis (PCA) and drought stress indexes (DSI) of each physiological parameter showed significant differences in the drought stress tolerance among the 49 genotypes. Heatmap and PCA data revealed that physiological parameters are more sensitive than morphological parameters in distinguishing the control and drought treatments. Metabolite profiling data found that under drought stress, the five best drought-tolerant genotypes tended to have higher levels of abscisic acid (ABA), spermine, trehalose, and fructose in comparison to the five most drought-sensitive genotypes. CONCLUSION: Based on PCA ranking value, the genotypes TEM-SEC, TEM-LoDorm, BN-13645-64, Alamo, BN-10860-61, BN-12323-69, TEM-SLC, T-2086, T-2100, T-2101, Caddo, and Blackwell-1 had relatively higher ranking values, indicating that they are more tolerant to drought. In contrast, the genotypes Grif Nebraska 28, Grenville-2, Central Iowa Germplasm, Cave-in-Rock, Dacotah, and Nebraska 28 were found to be relatively sensitive to drought stress. By analyzing physiological response parameters and different metabolic profiles, the methods utilized in this study identified drought-tolerant and drought-sensitive switchgrass genotypes. These results provide a foundation for future research directed at understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying switchgrass tolerance to drought.
Project description:Under natural conditions, plants experience episodes of drought for periods of days or longer. Plants respond to drought stress by reconfiguring their transcriptome activity. Transcriptome changes in response to drought are dynamic, and are likely to be shaped by mitigating factors such as diel signals. To gain insights into the dynamics of transcriptome reconfiguration in response to gradual soil drying, the drought-induced transcriptomes of Arabidopsis thaliana were examined at four time points over a single diel period – midday, late day, midnight, and pre-dawn. A core set of genes was identified that was responsive to drought, independent of the time of day at which they were measured. Strikingly, the magnitude of the drought-induced changes for these genes varied in a time-of-day-dependent manner. An additional set of time-of-day-specific drought-responsive genes were also identified. The diurnal patterns of transcript accumulation for these genes was strongly influenced by drought stress. This study indicates that analysis of a single time point would miss suites of drought-responsive genes that are revealed through assessment of the dynamics of diurnal changes, emphasizing the value of characterizing multiple time-of-day-specific drought transcriptomes. Overall design: 24 arrays total. 4 time points (midday, late day, midnight, pre-dawn). 2 water regimes (well-watered, water-limited). 3 biological replicates per treatment.
Project description:Heat waves in combination with drought are predicted to occur more frequently with climate warming, yet their interactive effects on crop carbon and water balance are still poorly understood. Hence, research on the capacity of crops to withstand and recover from the combined stress is urgently needed. This study investigated the effects of drought and heat wave on a crop species as well as the recovery from the combined stress. Seedlings were grown in growth chambers under two soil water conditions (i.e. well watered and drought stress) at ambient temperature (26°C) for 10 days. Afterwards, half of the seedlings were exposed to a 7-day 42°C heat wave. All the drought-stressed seedlings were then rehydrated upon relief of the heat wave. Leaf gas exchange, the maximum carboxylation capacity (V cmax), plant growth, relative chlorophyll content and leaf water potential were examined during the experimental period. The heat wave reduced leaf gas exchange rates, V cmax and relative chlorophyll content, while it had no impacts on leaf water potential. In contrast, drought stress led to greater reductions in leaf gas exchange rates, growth and water potential than heat wave alone. Seedlings underwent a greater degree of stress in the combination of drought and heat wave than under the single drought treatment. The recovery of leaf gas exchange from drought stress lagged behind the water potential recovery and was delayed by heat wave. Our results show that drought stress had a predominant role in determining plant physiological responses and the negative impacts of drought stress were exacerbated by heat wave. The greater stress in the combination of drought and heat wave translated into the slower recovery of leaf gas exchange. Therefore, drought combined with heat wave may induce greater risks on crops under future climates.
Project description:Experimental drought is well documented to induce a decline in photosynthetic capacity. However, if given time to acclimate to low water availability, the photosynthetic responses of plants to low soil moisture content may differ from those found in short-term experiments. This study aims to test whether plants acclimate to long-term water stress by modifying the functional relationships between photosynthetic traits and water stress, and whether species of contrasting habitat differ in their degree of acclimation.Three Eucalyptus taxa from xeric and riparian habitats were compared with regard to their gas exchange responses under short- and long-term drought. Photosynthetic parameters were measured after 2 and 4 months of watering treatments, namely field capacity or partial drought. At 4 months, all plants were watered to field capacity, then watering was stopped. Further measurements were made during the subsequent 'drying-down', continuing until stomata were closed.Two months of partial drought consistently reduced assimilation rate, stomatal sensitivity parameters (g1), apparent maximum Rubisco activity (V'(cmax)) and maximum electron transport rate (J'(max)). Eucalyptus occidentalis from the xeric habitat showed the smallest decline in V'(cmax) and J'(max); however, after 4 months, V'(cmax) and J'(max) had recovered. Species differed in their degree of V'(cmax) acclimation. Eucalyptus occidentalis showed significant acclimation of the pre-dawn leaf water potential at which the V'(cmax) and 'true' V(cmax) (accounting for mesophyll conductance) declined most steeply during drying-down.The findings indicate carbon loss under prolonged drought could be over-estimated without accounting for acclimation. In particular, (1) species from contrasting habitats differed in the magnitude of V'(cmax) reduction in short-term drought; (2) long-term drought allowed the possibility of acclimation, such that V'(cmax) reduction was mitigated; (3) xeric species showed a greater degree of V'(cmax) acclimation; and (4) photosynthetic acclimation involves hydraulic adjustments to reduce water loss while maintaining photosynthesis.
Project description:Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a perennial crop producing deep roots and thus highly tolerant to soil water deficit conditions. However, seedling establishment in the field is very susceptible to prolonged and periodic drought stress. In this study, a "sandwich" system simulating a gradual water deletion process was developed. Switchgrass seedlings were subjected to a 20-day gradual drought treatment process when soil water tension was increased to 0.05 MPa (moderate drought stress) and leaf physiological properties had expressed significant alteration. Drought-induced changes in leaf proteomes were identified using the isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) labeling method followed by nano-scale liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (nano-LC-MS/MS) analysis. Additionally, total leaf proteins were processed using a combinatorial library of peptide ligands to enrich for lower abundance proteins. Both total proteins and those enriched samples were analyzed to increase the coverage of the quantitative proteomics analysis. A total of 7006 leaf proteins were identified, and 257 (4% of the leaf proteome) expressed a significant difference (p < 0.05, fold change <0.6 or >1.7) from the non-treated control to drought-treated conditions. These proteins are involved in the regulation of transcription and translation, cell division, cell wall modification, phyto-hormone metabolism and signaling transduction pathways, and metabolic pathways of carbohydrates, amino acids, and fatty acids. A scheme of abscisic acid (ABA)-biosynthesis and ABA responsive signal transduction pathway was reconstructed using these drought-induced significant proteins, showing systemic regulation at protein level to deploy the respective mechanism. Results from this study, in addition to revealing molecular responses to drought stress, provide a large number of proteins (candidate genes) that can be employed to improve switchgrass seedling growth and establishment under soil drought conditions (Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD004675).
Project description:Drought stress negatively impacts microbial activity, but the magnitude of stress responses is likely dependent on a diversity of belowground interactions. Populus trichocarpa individuals and no-plant bulk soils were exposed to extended drought (?0.03% gravimetric water content [GWC] after 12 days), rewet, and a 12-day "recovery" period to determine the effects of plant presence in mediating soil microbiome stability to water stress. Plant metabolomic analyses indicated that drought exposure increased host investment in C and N metabolic pathways (amino acids, fatty acids, phenolic glycosides) regardless of recovery. Several metabolites positively correlated with root-associated microbial alpha-diversity, but not those of soil communities. Soil bacterial community composition shifted with P. trichocarpa presence and with drought relative to irrigated controls, whereas soil fungal composition shifted only with plant presence. However, root fungal communities strongly shifted with drought, whereas root bacterial communities changed to a lesser degree. The proportion of bacterial water-stress opportunistic operational taxonomic units (OTUs) (enriched counts in drought) was high (?11%) at the end of drying phases and maintained after rewet and recovery phases in bulk soils, but it declined over time in soils with plants present. For root fungi, opportunistic OTUs were high at the end of recovery in drought treatments (?17% abundance), although relatively not responsive in soils, particularly planted soils (<0.5% abundance for sensitive or opportunistic). These data indicate that plants modulate soil and root-associated microbial drought responses via tight plant-microbe linkages during extreme drought scenarios, but trajectories after extreme drought vary with plant habitat and microbial functional groups.IMPORTANCE Climate change causes significant alterations in precipitation and temperature regimes that are predicted to become more extreme throughout the next century. Microorganisms are important members within ecosystems, and how they respond to these changing abiotic stressors has large implications for the functioning of ecosystems, the recycling of nutrients, and the health of the aboveground plant community. Drought stress negatively impacts microbial activity, but the magnitude of this stress response may be dependent on above- and belowground interactions. This study demonstrates that beneficial associations between plants and microbes can enhance tolerance to abiotic stress.
Project description:End-of-season drought or "terminal drought," which occurs after flowering, is considered the most significant abiotic stress affecting crop yields. Wheat crop production in Mediterranean-type environments is often exposed to terminal drought due to decreasing rainfall and rapid increases in temperature and evapotranspiration during spring when wheat crops enter the reproductive stage. Under such conditions, every millimeter of extra soil water extracted by the roots benefits grain filling and yield and improves water use efficiency (WUE). When terminal drought develops, soil dries from the top, exposing the top part of the root system to dry soil while the bottom part is in contact with available soil water. Plant roots sense the drying soil and produce signals, which on transmission to shoots trigger stomatal closure to regulate crop water use through transpiration. However, transpiration is linked to crop growth and productivity and limiting transpiration may reduce potential yield. While an early and high degree of stomatal closure affects photosynthesis and hence biomass production, a late and low degree of stomatal closure exhausts available soil water rapidly which results in yield losses through a reduction in post-anthesis water use. The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) is considered the major chemical signal involved in stomatal regulation. Wheat genotypes differ in their ability to produce ABA under drought and also in their stomatal sensitivity to ABA. In this viewpoint article we discuss the possibilities of exploiting genotypic differences in ABA response to soil drying in regulating the use of water under terminal drought. Root density distribution in the upper drying layers of the soil profile is identified as a candidate trait that can affect ABA accumulation and subsequent stomatal closure. We also examine whether leaf ABA can be designated as a surrogate characteristic for improved WUE in wheat to sustain grain yield under terminal drought. Ease of collecting leaf samples to quantify ABA compared to extracting xylem sap will facilitate rapid screening of a large number of germplasm for drought tolerance.
Project description:Non-irrigated crops in temperate climates and irrigated crops in arid climates are subjected to continuous cycles of water stress and re-watering. Thus, fast and efficient recovery from water stress may be among the key determinants of plant drought adaptation. The present study was designed to comparatively analyze the roles of drought resistance and drought recovery in drought adaptation and to investigate the physiological basis of genotypic variation in drought adaptation in maize (Zea mays) seedlings. As the seedlings behavior in growth associate with yield under drought, it could partly reflect the potential of drought adaptability. Growth and physiological responses to progressive drought stress and recovery were observed in seedlings of 10 maize lines. The results showed that drought adaptability is closely related to drought recovery (r = 0.714(**)), but not to drought resistance (r = 0.332). Drought induced decreases in leaf water content, water potential, osmotic potential, gas exchange parameters, chlorophyll content, Fv/Fm and nitrogen content, and increased H2O2 accumulation and lipid peroxidation. After recovery, most of these physiological parameters rapidly returned to normal levels. The physiological responses varied between lines. Further correlation analysis indicated that the physiological bases of drought resistance and drought recovery are definitely different, and that maintaining higher chlorophyll content (r = 0.874(***)) and Fv/Fm (r = 0.626(*)) under drought stress contributes to drought recovery. Our results suggest that both drought resistance and recovery are key determinants of plant drought adaptation, and that drought recovery may play a more important role than previously thought. In addition, leaf water potential, chlorophyll content and Fv/Fm could be used as efficient reference indicators in the selection of drought-adaptive genotypes.