Changes in gene expression form a key component of the molecular mechanisms by which plants adapt and respond to environmental stresses. There is compelling evidence for the role of stimulus-specific Ca(2+) signatures in plant stress responses. However, our understanding of how they orchestrate the differential expression of stress-induced genes remains fragmentary. We have undertaken a global study of changes in the Arabidopsis transcriptome induced by the pollutant ozone in order to establish a robust transcriptional response against which to test the ability of Ca(2+) signatures to encode stimulus-specific transcriptional information. We show that the expression of a set of co-regulated ozone-induced genes is Ca(2+)-dependent and that abolition of the ozone-induced Ca(2+) signature inhibits the induction of these genes by ozone. No induction of this set of ozone-regulated genes was observed in response to H(2)O(2), one of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by ozone, or cold stress, which also generates ROS, both of which stimulate changes in [Ca(2+)](cyt). These data establish unequivocally that the Ca(2+)-dependent changes in gene expression observed in response to ozone are not simply a consequence of an ROS-induced increase in [Ca(2+) ](cyt) per se. The magnitude and temporal dynamics of the ozone, H(2)O(2) , and cold Ca(2+) signatures all differ markedly. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that stimulus-specific transcriptional information can be encoded in the spatiotemporal dynamics of complex Ca(2+) signals in plants.
© 2012 The Authors. The Plant Journal © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.