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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Transcriptome analysis provides insights into the root response of Chinese fir to phosphorus deficiency

Chen, Wanting; Zhou, Mengyan; Zhao, Mingzhen; Chen, Ranhong; Tigabu, Mulualem; Wu, Pengfei; Li, Ming; Ma, Xiangqing


Background Phosphorus is one of the essential elements for plant growth and development, but available phosphorus (Pi) content in many soil types is low. As a fast-growing tree species for timber production, Chinese fir is in great demand of Pi, and the lack of Pi in soil restricts the increase of productivity of Chinese fir plantation. Root morphology and the synthesis and secretion of organic acids play an important role in the uptake of phosphorus, but the molecular mechanisms of Chinese fir root responses to Pi deficiency are largely unexplored. In this study, seedlings of Yang 061 clone were grown under three Pi supply levels (0, 5 and 10 mg center dot L-1 P) and morphological attributes, organic acid content and enzyme activity were measured. The transcriptome data of Chinese fir root system were obtained and the expression levels of phosphorus responsive genes and organic acid synthesis related genes on citric acid and glyoxylate cycle pathway were determined. Results We annotated 50,808 Unigenes from the transcriptome of Chinese fir roots. Among differentially expressed genes, seven genes of phosphate transporter family and 17 genes of purple acid phosphatase family were up-regulated by Pi deficiency, two proteins of SPX domain were up-regulated and one was down-regulated. The metabolic pathways of the citric acid and glyoxylate cycle pathway were mapped, and the expression characteristics of the related Unigenes under different phosphorus treatments were analyzed. The genes involved in malic acid and citric acid synthesis were up-regulated, and the activities of the related enzymes were significantly enhanced under long-term Pi stress. The contents of citric acid and malic acid in the roots of Chinese fir increased after 30 days of Pi deficiency. Conclusion Chinese fir roots showed increased expression of genes related with phosphorus starvation, citrate and malate synthesis genes, increased content of organic acids, and enhanced activities of related enzymes under Pi deficiency. The results provide a new insight for revealing the molecular mechanism of adaption to Pi deficiency and the pathway of organic acid synthesis in Chinese fir roots.


Cunninghamia lanceolata; Phosphorus deficiency; Transcriptome; Differential expression genes; Citric acid and glyoxylate cycle pathway

Published in

BMC Plant Biology
2021, Volume: 21, number: 1, article number: 525
Publisher: BMC

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    Forest Science

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