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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Transcriptional profiling of chickpea genes differentially regulated in response to high-salinity, cold and drought

Nitin L Mantri1, Rebecca Ford2*, Tristan E Coram3 and Edwin CK Pang1

Author Affiliations

1 RMIT University, School of Applied Sciences, Biotechnology and Environmental Biology, Building 223, Level 1, Plenty Road, Bundoora, Victoria. 3083. Australia

2 BioMarka, Faculty of Land and Food Resources, The University of Melbourne, Victoria. 3010. Australia

3 United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Wheat Genetics, Quality, Physiology and Disease Research Unit and Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, 99164-6430. USA

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:303  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-303

Published: 2 September 2007

Abstract

Background

Cultivated chickpea (Cicer arietinum) has a narrow genetic base making it difficult for breeders to produce new elite cultivars with durable resistance to major biotic and abiotic stresses. As an alternative to genome mapping, microarrays have recently been applied in crop species to identify and assess the function of putative genes thought to be involved in plant abiotic stress and defence responses. In the present study, a cDNA microarray approach was taken in order to determine if the transcription of genes, from a set of previously identified putative stress-responsive genes from chickpea and its close relative Lathyrus sativus, were altered in chickpea by the three abiotic stresses; drought, cold and high-salinity. For this, chickpea genotypes known to be tolerant and susceptible to each abiotic stress were challenged and gene expression in the leaf, root and/or flower tissues was studied. The transcripts that were differentially expressed among stressed and unstressed plants in response to the particular stress were analysed in the context of tolerant/susceptible genotypes.

Results

The transcriptional change of more than two fold was observed for 109, 210 and 386 genes after drought, cold and high-salinity treatments, respectively. Among these, two, 15 and 30 genes were consensually differentially expressed (DE) between tolerant and susceptible genotypes studied for drought, cold and high-salinity, respectively. The genes that were DE in tolerant and susceptible genotypes under abiotic stresses code for various functional and regulatory proteins. Significant differences in stress responses were observed within and between tolerant and susceptible genotypes highlighting the multiple gene control and complexity of abiotic stress response mechanism in chickpea.

Conclusion

The annotation of these genes suggests that they may have a role in abiotic stress response and are potential candidates for tolerance/susceptibility.