• Aluminium (Al) toxicity and drought are two major stress factors limiting common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) production on tropical acid soils. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) treatment reduces Al uptake and Al toxicity. • The effect of PEG 6000-induced osmotic stress on the expression of genes was studied using SuperSAGE combined with next-generation sequencing and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) for selected genes. • Less Al stress in PEG-treated roots was confirmed by decreased Al-induced up-regulation of MATE and ACCO genes. The withdrawal of PEG from the Al treatment solution restored the Al accumulation and reversed the expression of MATE and ACCO genes to the level of the treatment with Al alone. Using SuperSAGE, we identified 611 up- and 728 down-regulated genes in PEG-treated root tips, and the results were confirmed by qRT-PCR using 46 differentially expressed genes. Among the 12 genes studied in more detail, XTHa and BEG (down-regulated by PEG) and HRGP, bZIP, MYB and P5CS (up-regulated by PEG) recovered completely within 2 h after removal of PEG stress. • The results suggest that genes related to cell wall assembly and modification, such as XTHs, BEG and HRGP, play important roles in the PEG-induced decrease in cell wall porosity, leading to reduced Al accumulation in root tips.
© 2011 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2011 New Phytologist Trust.