Transcriptomic profiling suggests candidate molecular responses to waterlogging in cassava

PLoS One. 2022 Jan 21;17(1):e0261086. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0261086. eCollection 2022.


Owing to climate change impacts, waterlogging is a serious abiotic stress that affects crops, resulting in stunted growth and loss of productivity. Cassava (Manihot esculenta Grantz) is usually grown in areas that experience high amounts of rainfall; however, little research has been done on the waterlogging tolerance mechanism of this species. Therefore, we investigated the physiological responses of cassava plants to waterlogging stress and analyzed global gene transcription responses in the leaves and roots of waterlogged cassava plants. The results showed that waterlogging stress significantly decreased the leaf chlorophyll content, caused premature senescence, and increased the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and peroxidase (POD) in the leaves and roots. In total, 2538 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were detected in the leaves and 13364 in the roots, with 1523 genes shared between the two tissues. Comparative analysis revealed that the DEGs were related mainly to photosynthesis, amino metabolism, RNA transport and degradation. We also summarized the functions of the pathways that respond to waterlogging and are involved in photosynthesis, glycolysis and galactose metabolism. Additionally, many transcription factors (TFs), such as MYBs, AP2/ERFs, WRKYs and NACs, were identified, suggesting that they potentially function in the waterlogging response in cassava. The expression of 12 randomly selected genes evaluated via both quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) and RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) was highly correlated (R2 = 0.9077), validating the reliability of the RNA-seq results. The potential waterlogging stress-related transcripts identified in this study are representatives of candidate genes and molecular resources for further understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the waterlogging response in cassava.

MeSH terms

  • Manihot*

Grant support

This study was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of Hainan Province (320QN193) and the China Agriculture Research System (CARS-11). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.