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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

The Transcriptional Landscape and Hub Genes Associated with Physiological Responses to Drought Stress in Pinus tabuliformis

Pervaiz, Tariq; Liu, Shuang-Wei; Uddin, Saleem; Amjid, Muhammad Waqas; Niu, Shi-Hui; Wu, Harry X.


Drought stress has an extensive impact on regulating various physiological, metabolic, and molecular responses. In the present study, the Pinus tabuliformis transcriptome was studied to evaluate the drought-responsive genes using RNA- Sequencing approache. The results depicted that photosynthetic rate and H2O conductance started to decline under drought but recovered 24 h after re-watering; however, the intercellular CO2 concentration (Ci) increased with the onset of drought. We identified 84 drought-responsive transcription factors, 62 protein kinases, 17 transcriptional regulators, and 10 network hub genes. Additionally, we observed the expression patterns of several important gene families, including 2192 genes positively expressed in all 48 samples, and 40 genes were commonly co-expressed in all drought and recovery stages compared with the control samples. The drought-responsive transcriptome was conserved mainly between P. tabuliformis and A. thaliana, as 70% (6163) genes had a homologous in arabidopsis, out of which 52% homologous (3178 genes corresponding to 2086 genes in Arabidopsis) were also drought response genes in arabidopsis. The collaborative network exhibited 10 core hub genes integrating with ABA-dependent and independent pathways closely conserved with the ABA signaling pathway in the transcription factors module. PtNCED3 from the ABA family genes had shown significantly different expression patterns under control, mild, prolonged drought, and recovery stages. We found the expression pattern was considerably increased with the prolonged drought condition. PtNCED3 highly expressed in all drought-tested samples; more interestingly, expression pattern was higher under mild and prolonged drought. PtNCED3 is reported as one of the important regulating enzymes in ABA synthesis. The continuous accumulation of ABA in leaves increased resistance against drought was due to accumulation of PtNCED3 under drought stress in the pine needles.


Pinus tabuliformis; drought stress; drought-recovery; PtNCED3; ABA signaling; RNA-Seq

Published in

International Journal of Molecular Sciences
2021, Volume: 22, number: 17, article number: 9604Publisher: MDPI

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Forest Science

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