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Plant J. 2008 Mar;53(6):973-87. Epub 2007 Nov 29.

Integrative functional genomics of salt acclimatization in the model legume Lotus japonicus.

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Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology, Wissenschaftspark Golm, Am Mühlenberg 1, Potsdam-Golm, D-14476, Germany.


The model legume Lotus japonicus was subjected to non-lethal long-term salinity and profiled at the ionomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic levels. Two experimental designs with various stress doses were tested: a gradual step acclimatization and an initial acclimatization approach. Ionomic profiling by inductively coupled plasma/atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES) revealed salt stress-induced reductions in potassium, phosphorus, sulphur, zinc and molybdenum. Microarray profiling using the Lotus Genechip allowed the identification of 912 probesets that were differentially expressed under the acclimatization regimes. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry-based metabolite profiling identified 147 differentially accumulated soluble metabolites, indicating a change in metabolic phenotype upon salt acclimatization. Metabolic changes were characterized by a general increase in the steady-state levels of many amino acids, sugars and polyols, with a concurrent decrease in most organic acids. Transcript and metabolite changes exhibited a stress dose-dependent response within the range of NaCl concentrations used, although threshold and plateau behaviours were also observed. The combined observations suggest a successive and increasingly global requirement for the reprogramming of gene expression and metabolic pathways to maintain ionic and osmotic homeostasis. A simple qualitative model is proposed to explain the systems behaviour of plants during salt acclimatization.

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