Variation in leaf transcriptome responses to elevated ozone corresponds with physiological sensitivity to ozone across maize inbred lines

Genetics. 2022 May 17;iyac080. doi: 10.1093/genetics/iyac080. Online ahead of print.


We examine the impact of sustained elevated ozone concentration on the leaf transcriptome of 5 diverse maize inbred genotypes, which vary in physiological sensitivity to ozone (B73, Mo17, Hp301, C123, NC338), using long reads to assemble transcripts and short reads to quantify expression of these transcripts. More than 99% of the long reads, 99% of the assembled transcripts, and 97% of the short reads map to both B73 and Mo17 reference genomes. Approximately 95% of the genes with assembled transcripts belong to known B73-Mo17 syntenic loci and 94% of genes with assembled transcripts are present in all temperate lines in the NAM pan-genome. While there is limited evidence for alternative splicing in response to ozone stress, there is a difference in the magnitude of differential expression among the 5 genotypes. The transcriptional response to sustained ozone stress in the ozone resistant B73 genotype (151 genes) was modest, while more than 3,300 genes were significantly differentially expressed in the more sensitive NC338 genotype. There is the potential for tandem duplication in 30% of genes with assembled transcripts, but there is no obvious association between potential tandem duplication and differential expression. Genes with a common response across the 5 genotypes (83 genes) were associated with photosynthesis, in particular photosystem I. The functional annotation of genes not differentially expressed in B73 but responsive in the other 4 genotypes (789) identifies reactive oxygen species. This suggests that B73 has a different response to long term ozone exposure than the other 4 genotypes. The relative magnitude of the genotypic response to ozone, and the enrichment analyses are consistent regardless of whether aligning short reads to: long read assembled transcripts; the B73 reference; the Mo17 reference. We find that prolonged ozone exposure directly impacts the photosynthetic machinery of the leaf.

Keywords: Iso-seq; RNA-seq; climate change; corn; stress response.