Secondary Metabolism and Hormone Response Reveal the Molecular Mechanism of Triploid Mulberry ( Morus Alba L.) Trees Against Drought

Front Plant Sci. 2021 Oct 6;12:720452. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.720452. eCollection 2021.


The improvement of a plant's tolerance to drought is a major endeavor in agriculture. Polyploid plants often exhibit enhanced stress tolerance relative to their diploid progenitor, but the matching stress tolerance is still little understood. Own-rooted stem cuttings of mulberry (Morus alba L.) cultivar Shinichinose (2n = 2x = 28) and Shaansang-305 (2n = 3x = 42) were used in this study, of which the latter (triploid) has more production and application purposes. The responses of triploid Shaansang-305 and diploid progenitor ShinIchinose under drought stress were compared through an investigation of their physiological traits, RNA-seq, and secondary metabolome analysis. The results showed that the triploid exhibited an augmented abscisic acid (ABA) content and a better stress tolerance phenotype under severe drought stress. Further, in the triploid plant some genes (TSPO, NCED3, and LOC21398866) and ATG gene related to ABA signaling showed significantly upregulated expression. Interestingly, the triploid accumulated higher levels of RWC and SOD activity, as well as more wax on the leaf surface, but with less reductive flavonoid than in diploid. Our results suggest triploid plants may better adapt to with drought events. Furthermore, the flavonoid metabolism involved in drought resistance identified here may be of great value to medicinal usage of mulberry. The findings presented here could have substantial implications for future studies of crop breeding.

Keywords: RNA-Seq; drought stress; mulberry; polyploidy; secondary metabolism.