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Genome-wide gene expression profiling of introgressed indica rice alleles associated with seedling cold tolerance improvement in a japonica rice background

Fan Zhang12, Liyu Huang12, Wensheng Wang12, Xiuqin Zhao12, Linghua Zhu12, Binying Fu12* and Zhikang Li123*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Crop Sciences/National Key Facility for Crop Gene Resources and Genetic Improvement, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China

2 Shenzhen Institute of Breeding and Innovation, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Shenzhen 518083, China

3 International Rice Research Institute, DAPO Box 7777, Metro Manila, Philippines

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BMC Genomics 2012, 13:461  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-461

Published: 7 September 2012



Rice in tropical and sub-tropical areas is often subjected to cold stress at the seedling stage, resulting in poor growth and yield loss. Although japonica rice is generally more cold tolerant (CT) than indica rice, there are several favorable alleles for CT exist in indica that can be used to enhance CT in rice with a japonica background. Genome-wide gene expression profiling is an efficient way to decipher the molecular genetic mechanisms of CT enhancement and to provide valuable information for CT improvement in rice molecular breeding. In this study, the transcriptome of the CT introgression line (IL) K354 and its recurrent parent C418 under cold stress were comparatively analyzed to explore the possible CT enhancement mechanisms of K354.


A total of 3184 differentially expressed genes (DEGs), including 195 transcription factors, were identified in both lines under cold stress. About half of these DEGs were commonly regulated and involved in major cold responsive pathways associated with OsDREB1 and OsMyb4 regulons. K354-specific cold-induced genes were functionally related to stimulus response, cellular cell wall organization, and microtubule-based movement processes that may contribute to increase CT. A set of genes encoding membrane fluidity and defensive proteins were highly enriched only in K354, suggesting that they contribute to the inherent CT of K354. Candidate gene prediction based on introgressed regions in K354 revealed genotype-dependent CT enhancement mechanisms, associated with Sir2, OsFAD7, OsWAK112d, and programmed cell death (PCD) related genes, present in CT IL K354 but absent in its recurrent parent C418. In K354, a number of DEGs were co-localized onto introgressed segments associated with CT QTLs, providing a basis for gene cloning and elucidation of molecular mechanisms responsible for CT in rice.


Genome-wide gene expression analysis revealed that genotype-specific cold induced genes and genes with higher basal expression in the CT genotype contribute jointly to CT improvement. The molecular genetic pathways of cold stress tolerance uncovered in this study, as well as the DEGs co-localized with CT-related QTLs, will serve as useful resources for further functional dissection of the molecular mechanisms of cold stress response in rice.

Rice; Cold tolerance; Transcriptome; Introgression line