Systems-based analysis of Arabidopsis leaf growth reveals adaptation to water deficit

Mol Syst Biol. 2012;8:606. doi: 10.1038/msb.2012.39.


Leaves have a central role in plant energy capture and carbon conversion and therefore must continuously adapt their development to prevailing environmental conditions. To reveal the dynamic systems behaviour of leaf development, we profiled Arabidopsis leaf number six in depth at four different growth stages, at both the end-of-day and end-of-night, in plants growing in two controlled experimental conditions: short-day conditions with optimal soil water content and constant reduced soil water conditions. We found that the lower soil water potential led to reduced, but prolonged, growth and an adaptation at the molecular level without a drought stress response. Clustering of the protein and transcript data using a decision tree revealed different patterns in abundance changes across the growth stages and between end-of-day and end-of-night that are linked to specific biological functions. Correlations between protein and transcript levels depend on the time-of-day and also on protein localisation and function. Surprisingly, only very few of >1700 quantified proteins showed diurnal abundance fluctuations, despite strong fluctuations at the transcript level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Darkness
  • Droughts
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Light
  • Photoperiod
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Transpiration / physiology
  • Proteome / metabolism*
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Soil
  • Transcriptome / physiology*
  • Water / metabolism


  • Proteome
  • Soil
  • Water