Under natural conditions, it is common for plants to experience water deprivation (drought) for periods of days or longer. Plants respond to drought stress by reconfiguring their transcriptome activity. Transcriptome changes in response to drought are dynamic, and are shaped by mitigating factors like time during the diurnal cycle. To date, analyses of drought-induced transcriptome remodelling have concentrated on dynamic changes induced by rapid desiccation, or changes at a single time point following gradual water stress. To gain insights into the dynamics of transcriptome reconfiguration in response to gradual drying of the soil, the drought-induced transcriptomes of Arabidopsis thaliana were examined at four time points over a single diel period - midday, late day, midnight, and pre-dawn. Transcriptome reconfigurations were induced by drought in advance of changes to relative water content, leaf water loss, and chlorophyll content. Comparative analyses support the hypothesis that the drought-responsive transcriptomes were shaped by invocation of distinct hormonal and stress response pathways at different times of the day. While a core set of genes were drought responsive at multiple time points throughout the day, the magnitude of the response varied in a manner dependent on the time of day. Moreover, analysis of a single time point would fail to identify suites of drought-responsive genes that can only be detected through assessment of the dynamics of diurnal changes, emphasising the value of characterising multiple time-of-day-specific drought transcriptomes.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.