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Open Access Research article

Transcriptome differences between two sister desert poplar species under salt stress

Jian Zhang1, Jianju Feng12, Jing Lu1, Yongzhi Yang1, Xu Zhang1, Dongshi Wan1 and Jianquan Liu1*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Grassland and Agro-Ecosystems, School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, Gansu, China

2 Xinjiang Production & Construction Corps Key Laboratory of Protection and Utilization of Biological Resources in Tarim Basin, College of Plant Science, Tarim University, Alar 843300, Xinjiang, China

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:337  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-337

Published: 4 May 2014

Abstract

Background

Populus euphratica Oliv and P. pruinosa Schrenk (Salicaceae) both grow in dry desert areas with high summer temperatures. However, P. euphratica is distributed in dry deserts with deep underground water whereas P. pruinosa occurs in deserts in which there is underground water close to the surface. We therefore hypothesized that these two sister species may have evolved divergent regulatory and metabolic pathways during their interaction with different salt habitats and other stresses. To test this hypothesis, we compared transcriptomes from callus exposed to 24 h of salt stress and control callus samples from both species and identified differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and alternative splicing (AS) events that had occurred under salt stress.

Results

A total of 36,144 transcripts were identified and 1430 genes were found to be differentially expressed in at least one species in response to salt stress. Of these DEGs, 884 and 860 were identified in P. euphratica and P. pruinosa, respectively, while 314 DEGs were common to both species. On the basis of parametric analysis of gene set enrichment, GO enrichment in P. euphratica was found to be significantly different from that in P. pruinosa. Numerous genes involved in hormone biosynthesis, transporters and transcription factors showed clear differences between the two species in response to salt stress. We also identified 26,560 AS events which were mapped to 8380 poplar genomic loci from four libraries. GO enrichments for genes undergoing AS events in P. euphratica differed significantly from those in P. pruinosa.

Conclusions

A number of salt-responsive genes in both P. euphratica and P. pruinosa were identified and candidate genes with potential roles in the salinity adaptation were proposed. Transcriptome comparisons of two sister desert poplar species under salt stress suggest that these two species may have developed different genetic pathways in order to adapt to different desert salt habitats. The DEGs that were found to be common to both species under salt stress may be especially important for future genetic improvement of cultivated poplars or other crops through transgenic approaches in order to increase tolerance of saline soil conditions.

Keywords:
P. euphratica; P. pruinosa; Salt tolerance; Salinity stress; Transcriptome; Differentially expressed genes; Alternative splicing