Drought is a major environmental stress that limits growth and development of cool-season annual grasses. Drought transcriptional profiles of resistant and susceptible lines were studied to understand the molecular mechanisms of drought tolerance in annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum L.). A total of 4718 genes exhibited significantly differential expression in two L. multiflorum lines. Additionally, up-regulated genes associated with drought response in the resistant lines were compared with susceptible lines. Gene ontology enrichment and pathway analyses revealed that genes partially encoding drought-responsive proteins as key regulators were significantly involved in carbon metabolism, lipid metabolism, and signal transduction. Comparable gene expression was used to identify the genes that contribute to the high drought tolerance in resistant lines of annual ryegrass. Moreover, we proposed the hypothesis that short-term drought have a beneficial effect on oxidation stress, which may be ascribed to a direct effect on the drought tolerance of annual ryegrass. Evidence suggests that some of the genes encoding antioxidants (HPTs, GGT, AP, 6-PGD, and G6PDH) function as antioxidant in lipid metabolism and signal transduction pathways, which have indispensable and promoting roles in drought resistance. This study provides the first transcriptome data on the induction of drought-related gene expression in annual ryegrass, especially via modulation of metabolic homeostasis, signal transduction, and antioxidant defenses to improve drought tolerance response to short-term drought stress.
Keywords: Lolium multiflorum L; antioxidant defense; differentially expressed genes; drought tolerance; metabolic processes.