In the scenario of global warming and climate change, heat stress is a serious threat to crop production worldwide. Being sessile, plants cannot escape from heat. Plants have developed various adaptive mechanisms to survive heat stress. Several studies have focused on diversity of heat tolerance levels in divergent Arabidopsis thaliana (A. thaliana) ecotypes, but comprehensive genome scale understanding of heat stress response in plants is still lacking. Here we report the genome scale transcript responses to heat stress of 10 A. thaliana ecotypes (Col, Ler, C24, Cvi, Kas1, An1, Sha, Kyo2, Eri, and Kond) originated from different geographical locations. During the experiment, A. thaliana plants were subjected to heat stress (38°C) and transcript responses were monitored using Arabidopsis NimbleGen ATH6 microarrays. The responses of A. thaliana ecotypes exhibited considerable variation in the transcript abundance levels. In total, 3644 transcripts were significantly heat regulated (p < 0.01) in the 10 ecotypes, including 244 transcription factors and 203 transposable elements. By employing a systems genetics approach- Network Component Analysis (NCA), we have constructed an in silico transcript regulatory network model for 35 heat responsive transcription factors during cellular responses to heat stress in A. thaliana. The computed activities of the 35 transcription factors showed ecotype specific responses to the heat treatment.
Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; ecotypes; heat stress; microarray transcriptional profiling; natural variation; regulatory networks; systems biology.