Plant roots are among most intensively studied biological systems in gravity research. Altered gravity induces asymmetric cell growth leading to root bending. Differential distribution of the phytohormone auxin underlies root responses to gravity, being coordinated by auxin efflux transporters from the PIN family. The objective of this study was to compare early transcriptomic changes in roots of Arabidopsis thaliana wild type, and pin2 and pin3 mutants under parabolic flight conditions and to correlate these changes to auxin distribution. Parabolic flights allow comparison of transient 1-g, hypergravity and microgravity effects in living organisms in parallel. We found common and mutation-related genes differentially expressed in response to transient microgravity phases. Gene ontology analysis of common genes revealed lipid metabolism, response to stress factors and light categories as primarily involved in response to transient microgravity phases, suggesting that fundamental reorganisation of metabolic pathways functions upstream of a further signal mediating hormonal network. Gene expression changes in roots lacking the columella-located PIN3 were stronger than in those deprived of the epidermis and cortex cell-specific PIN2. Moreover, repetitive exposure to microgravity/hypergravity and gravity/hypergravity flight phases induced an up-regulation of auxin responsive genes in wild type and pin2 roots, but not in pin3 roots, suggesting a critical function of PIN3 in mediating auxin fluxes in response to transient microgravity phases. Our study provides important insights towards understanding signal transduction processes in transient microgravity conditions by combining for the first time the parabolic flight platform with the transcriptome analysis of different genetic mutants in the model plant, Arabidopsis.
Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; microgravity; mutant; root; transcriptome.
© 2013 German Botanical Society and The Royal Botanical Society of the Netherlands.