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Background: Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is grown for fiber and seed production. Unfavorable environments, such as nutrient deficiency and non-optimal soil acidity, decrease the quantity and quality of yield. Cultivation of tolerant to stress varieties can significantly reduce the crop losses. Understanding the mechanisms of flax response to the stresses and identification of resistance gene candidates will help in breeding of improved cultivars. In the present work, the response of flax plants to increased pH level and zinc (Zn) deficiency was studied. Results: We performed high-throughput transcriptome sequencing of two flax cultivars with diverse tolerance to increased pH level and Zn deficiency: Norlin (tolerant) and Mogilevsky (sensitive). Sixteen cDNA libraries were created from flax plants grown under control conditions, increased pH level, Zn deficiency, and both stresses simultaneously, and about 35 million reads were obtained for each experiment type. Unfavorable pH resulted in significantly stronger gene expression alterations compared to Zn deficiency. Ion homeostasis, oxidoreductase activity, cell wall, and response to stress Gene Ontology terms were the most affected by unfavorable pH and Zn deficiency both in tolerant and sensitive flax cultivars. Upregulation of genes encoding metal transporters was identified under increased pH level, Zn deficiency, and both stresses simultaneously. Under Zn deficiency, only in tolerant cultivar Norlin, we revealed the induction of several photosynthesis-related genes and, in this way, this tolerant genotype could overcome unfavorable effects of reduced Zn content. Conclusions: We identified genes with expression alterations in flax under non-optimal soil acidity and Zn deficiency based on high-throughput sequencing data. These genes are involved in diverse processes, including ion transport, cell wall biogenesis, and photosynthesis, and could play an important role in flax response to the studied stresses. Moreover, genes with distinct expression changes between examined tolerant and sensitive genotypes could determine the mechanisms of flax tolerance to non-optimal soil acidity and Zn deficiency.
Dmitriev, A. A., Krasnov, G. S., Rozhmina, T. A., Zyablitsin, A. V., Snezhkina, A. V., Fedorova, M. S., … Melnikova, N. V. (2019). Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) response to non-optimal soil acidity and zinc deficiency. BMC Plant Biology, 19. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12870-019-1641-1