Shared and genetically distinct Zea mays transcriptome responses to ongoing and past low temperature exposure

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Background: Cold temperatures and their alleviation affect many plant traits including the abundance of protein coding gene transcripts. Transcript level changes that occur in response to cold temperatures and their alleviation are shared or vary across genotypes. In this study we identify individual transcripts and groups of functionally related transcripts that consistently respond to cold and its alleviation. Genes that respond differently to temperature changes across genotypes may have limited functional importance. We investigate if these genes share functions, and if their genotype-specific gene expression levels change in magnitude or rank across temperatures. Results: We estimate transcript abundances from over 22,000 genes in two unrelated Zea mays inbred lines during and after cold temperature exposure. Genotype and temperature contribute to many genes' abundances. Past cold exposure affects many fewer genes. Genes up-regulated in cold encode many cytokinin glucoside biosynthesis enzymes, transcription factors, signalling molecules, and proteins involved in diverse environmental responses. After cold exposure, protease inhibitors and cuticular wax genes are newly up-regulated, and environmentally responsive genes continue to be up-regulated. Genes down-regulated in response to cold include many photosynthesis, translation, and DNA replication associated genes. After cold exposure, DNA replication and translation genes are still preferentially downregulated. Lignin and suberin biosynthesis are newly down-regulated. DNA replication, reactive oxygen species response, and anthocyanin biosynthesis genes have strong, genotype-specific temperature responses. The ranks of genotypes' transcript abundances often change across temperatures. Conclusions: We report a large, core transcriptome response to cold and the alleviation of cold. In cold, many of the core suite of genes are up or downregulated to control plant growth and photosynthesis and limit cellular damage. In recovery, core responses are in part to prepare for future stress. Functionally related genes are consistently and greatly up-regulated in a single genotype in response to cold or its alleviation, suggesting positive selection has driven genotype-specific temperature responses in maize.




Avila, L. M., Obeidat, W., Earl, H., Niu, X., Hargreaves, W., & Lukens, L. (2018, October 20). Shared and genetically distinct Zea mays transcriptome responses to ongoing and past low temperature exposure. BMC Genomics. BioMed Central Ltd.

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