Climate change in the conifer-dominated boreal forest is expected to lead to warmer but more dynamic winter air temperatures, reducing the depth and duration of snow cover and lowering winter soil temperatures. To gain insight into the mechanisms that have enabled conifers to dominate extreme cold environments, we performed genome-wide RNA-Seq analysis from needles and roots of non-dormant two-year Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst), and contrasted these response to herbaceous model Arabidopsis We show that the main transcriptional response of Norway spruce needles exposed to cold was delayed relative to Arabidopsis, and this delay was associated with slower development of freezing tolerance. Despite this difference in timing, Norway spruce principally utilizes early response transcription factors (TFs) belonging to the same gene families as Arabidopsis, indicating broad evolutionary conservation of cold response networks. In keeping with their different metabolic and developmental states, needles and root of Norway spruce showed contrasting results. Regulatory network analysis identified both conserved TFs with known roles in cold acclimation (e.g. homologs of ICE1, AKS3, and of the NAC and AP2/ERF superfamilies), but also a root-specific bHLH101 homolog, providing functional insights into cold stress response strategies in Norway spruce.
Keywords: Norway spruce; cold; transcriptome.
© 2021 The Authors. Plant, Cell & Environment published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.