RNA-seq analysis of lignocellulose-related genes in hybrid Eucalyptus with contrasting wood basic density

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Abstract

Background: Wood basic density (WBD), the biomass of plant cell walls per unit volume, is an important trait for elite tree selection in kraft pulp production. Here, we investigated the correlation between WBD and wood volumes or wood properties using 98 open-pollinated, 2.4 to 2.8 year-old hybrid Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus urophylla x E. grandis). Transcript levels of lignocellulose biosynthesis-related genes were studied. Results: The progeny plants had average WBD of 516 kg/m3 with normal distribution and did not show any correlations between WBD and wood volume or components of α-cellulose, hemicellulose and Klason lignin content. Transcriptomic analysis of two groups of five plants each with high (570-609 kg/m3) or low (378-409 kg/m3) WBD was carried out by RNA-Seq analysis with total RNAs extracted from developing xylem tissues at a breast height. Lignocellulose biosynthesis-related genes, such as cellulose synthase, invertase, cinnamate-4-hydroxylase and cinnamoyl-CoA reductase showed higher transcript levels in the high WBD group. Among plant cell wall modifying genes, increased transcript levels of several expansin and xyloglucan endo-transglycosylase/hydrolase genes were also found in high WBD plants. Interestingly, strong transcript levels of several cytoskeleton genes encoding tubulin, actin and myosin were observed in high WBD plants. Furthermore, we also found elevated transcript levels of genes encoding NAC, MYB, basic helix-loop-helix, homeodomain, WRKY and LIM transcription factors in the high WBD plants. All these results indicate that the high WBD in plants has been associated with the increased transcription of many genes related to lignocellulose formation. Conclusions: Most lignocellulose biosynthesis related genes exhibited a tendency to transcribe at relatively higher level in high WBD plants. These results suggest that lignocellulose biosynthesis-related genes may be associated with WBD.

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Nakahama, K., Urata, N., Shinya, T., Hayashi, K., Nanto, K., Rosa, A. C., & Kawaoka, A. (2018). RNA-seq analysis of lignocellulose-related genes in hybrid Eucalyptus with contrasting wood basic density. BMC Plant Biology, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12870-018-1371-9

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