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PLoS One. 2013 Nov 5;8(11):e80218. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080218. eCollection 2013.

Transcriptome analysis reveals crosstalk of responsive genes to multiple abiotic stresses in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.).

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Molecular Developmental Biology, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.


Abiotic stress is a major environmental factor that limits cotton growth and yield, moreover, this problem has become more and more serious recently, as multiple stresses often occur simultaneously due to the global climate change and environmental pollution. In this study, we sought to identify genes involved in diverse stresses including abscisic acid (ABA), cold, drought, salinity and alkalinity by comparative microarray analysis. Our result showed that 5790, 3067, 5608, 778 and 6148 transcripts, were differentially expressed in cotton seedlings under treatment of ABA (1 μM ABA), cold (4°C), drought (200 mM mannitol), salinity (200 mM NaCl) and alkalinity (pH=11) respectively. Among the induced or suppressed genes, 126 transcripts were shared by all of the five kinds of abiotic stresses, with 64 up-regulated and 62 down-regulated. These common members are grouped as stress signal transduction, transcription factors (TFs), stress response/defense proteins, metabolism, transport facilitation, as well as cell wall/structure, according to the function annotation. We also noticed that large proportion of significant differentially expressed genes specifically regulated in response to different stress. Nine of the common transcripts of multiple stresses were selected for further validation with quantitative real time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR). Furthermore, several well characterized TF families, for example, WRKY, MYB, NAC, AP2/ERF and zinc finger were shown to be involved in different stresses. As an original report using comparative microarray to analyze transcriptome of cotton under five abiotic stresses, valuable information about functional genes and related pathways of anti-stress, and/or stress tolerance in cotton seedlings was unveiled in our result. Besides this, some important common factors were focused for detailed identification and characterization. According to our analysis, it suggested that there was crosstalk of responsive genes or pathways to multiple abiotic or even biotic stresses, in cotton. These candidate genes will be worthy of functional study under diverse stresses.

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