Transcriptomic diversity in seedling roots of European flint maize in response to cold

BMC Genomics. 2020 Apr 15;21(1):300. doi: 10.1186/s12864-020-6682-1.


Background: Low temperatures decrease the capacity for biomass production and lead to growth retardation up to irreversible cellular damage in modern maize cultivars. European flint landraces are an untapped genetic resource for genes and alleles conferring cold tolerance which they acquired during their adaptation to the agroecological conditions in Europe.

Results: Based on a phenotyping experiment of 276 doubled haploid lines derived from the European flint landrace "Petkuser Ferdinand Rot" diverging for cold tolerance, we selected 21 of these lines for an RNA-seq experiment. The different genotypes showed highly variable transcriptomic responses to cold. We identified 148, 3254 and 563 genes differentially expressed with respect to cold treatment, cold tolerance and growth rate at cold, respectively. Gene ontology (GO) term enrichment demonstrated that the detoxification of reactive oxygen species is associated with cold tolerance, whereas amino acids might play a crucial role as antioxidant precursors and signaling molecules.

Conclusion: Doubled haploids representing a European maize flint landrace display genotype-specific transcriptome patterns associated with cold response, cold tolerance and seedling growth rate at cold. Identification of cold regulated genes in European flint germplasm, could be a starting point for introgressing such alleles in modern breeding material for maize improvement.

Keywords: Abiotic stress; Cold; Doubled haploids; Flint; Landrace; Maize; RNA-seq; Root; Transcriptome.

MeSH terms

  • Cold Temperature
  • Computational Biology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics*
  • Gene Ontology
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Haploidy
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Breeding
  • Plant Roots
  • RNA-Seq
  • Seedlings / genetics*
  • Seedlings / growth & development
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Transcriptome / genetics*
  • Zea mays / genetics*

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