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Title: Aluminum or low pH - which is the bigger enemy of barley? Transcriptome analysis of barley root meristem under Al and low pH stress
Authors: Szurman-Zubrzycka, Miriam
Chwiałkowska, Karolina
Niemira, Magdalena
Kwaśniewski, Mirosław
Nawrot, Małgorzata
Gajecka, Monika
Larsen, Paul B.
Szarejko, Iwona
Keywords: barley; RNA-Seq; transcriptome; low pH; aluminum (Al); stress; root meristem
Issue Date: 2021
Citation: "Frontiers in Genetics" (2021), Vol. 12, art. no. 675260, s. 1-23
Abstract: Aluminum (Al) toxicity is considered to be the most harmful abiotic stress in acidic soils that today comprise more than 50% of the world’s arable lands. Barley belongs to a group of crops that are most sensitive to Al in low pH soils. We present the RNAseq analysis of root meristems of barley seedlings grown in hydroponics at optimal pH (6.0), low pH (4.0), and low pH with Al (10 mM of bioavailable Al3C ions). Two independent experiments were conducted: with short-term (24 h) and long-term (7 days) Al treatment. In the short-term experiment, more genes were differentially expressed (DEGs) between root meristems grown at pH = 6.0 and pH = 4.0, than between those grown at pH = 4.0 with and without Al treatment. The genes upregulated by low pH were associated mainly with response to oxidative stress, cell wall organization, and iron ion binding. Among genes upregulated by Al, overrepresented were those related to response to stress condition and calcium ion binding. In the long-term experiment, the number of DEGs between hydroponics at pH = 4.0 and 6.0 were lower than in the short-term experiment, which suggests that plants partially adapted to the low pH. Interestingly, 7 days Al treatment caused massive changes in the transcriptome profile. Over 4,000 genes were upregulated and almost 2,000 genes were downregulated by long-term Al stress. These DEGs were related to stress response, cell wall development and metal ion transport. Based on our results we can assume that both, Al3C ions and low pH are harmful to barley plants. Additionally, we phenotyped the root system of barley seedlings grown in the same hydroponic conditions for 7 days at pH = 6.0, pH = 4.0, and pH = 4.0 with Al. The results correspond to transcriptomic data and show that low pH itself is a stress factor that causes a significant reduction of root growth and the addition of aluminum further increases this reduction. It should be noted that in acidic arable lands, plants are exposed simultaneously to both of these stresses. The presented transcriptome analysis may help to find potential targets for breeding barley plants that are more tolerant to such conditions.
DOI: 10.3389/fgene.2021.675260
ISSN: 1664-8021
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