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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Comparative transcriptomic analysis reveals the coordinated mechanisms of Populus × canadensis ‘Neva’ leaves in response to cadmium stress

Li, Xiang; Mao, Xiuhong; Xu, Yujin; Li, Yan; Zhao, Nan; Yao, Junxiu; Dong, Yufeng; Tigabu, Mulualem; Zhao, Xiyang; Li, Shanwen


Cadmium (Cd), a heavy metal element has strong toxicity to living organisms. Excessive Cd accumulation directly affects the absorption of mineral elements, inhibits plant tissue development, and even induces mortality. Populus × canadensis ‘Neva’, the main afforestation variety planted widely in northern China, was a candidate variety for phytoremediation. However, the genes relieving Cd toxicity and increasing Cd tolerance of this species were still unclear. In this study, we employed transcriptome sequencing on two Cd?treated cuttings to identify the key genes involved in Cd stress responses of P. × canadensis ‘Neva’ l induced by 0 (CK), 10 (C10), and 20 (C20) mg/L Cd(NO3)2 4H2O. We discovered a total of 2,656 (1,488 up-regulated and 1,168 downregulated) and 2,816 DEGs (1,470 up-regulated and 1,346 down-regulated) differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between the CK vs C10 and CK vs C20, respectively. Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) enrichment analyses in response to the Cd stress indicated that many DEGs identified were involved in the catalytic activity, the oxidoreductase activity, the transferase activity, and the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites. Based on the enrichment results, potential candidate genes were identified related to the calcium ion signal transduction, transcription factors, the antioxidant defense system, and transporters and showed divergent expression patterns under the Cd stress. We also validated the reliability of transcriptome data with the real-time PCR. Our findings deeper the understanding of the molecular responsive mechanisms of P. × canadensis ‘Neva’ lon Cd tolerance and further provide critical resources for phytoremediation applications.


Transcriptome; Cadmium stress; Physiological analysis; Transcription factors; Gene annotation

Published in

Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
2021, volume: 216, article number: 112179

Authors' information

Li, Xiang
Northeast Forestry University - China
Mao, Xiuhong
Shandong Acad Forestry
Xu, Yujin
Northeast Forestry University - China
Li, Yan
Northeast Forestry University - China
Zhao, Nan
Northeast Forestry University - China
Yao, Junxiu
Shandong Acad Forestry
Dong, Yufeng
Shandong Acad Forestry
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Zhao, Xiyang
Northeast Forestry University - China
Li, Shanwen
Shandong Acad Forestry

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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