Pinellia ternata (Thunb.) Druce is a traditional medicinal plant containing a variety of alkaloids, which are important active ingredients. Brassinolide (BR) is a plant hormone that regulates plant response to environmental stress and promotes the accumulation of secondary metabolites in plants. However, the regulatory mechanism of BR-induced alkaloid accumulation in P. ternata is not clear. In this study, we investigated the effects of BR and BR biosynthesis inhibitor (propiconazole, Pcz) treatments on alkaloid biosynthesis in the bulbil of P. ternata. The results showed that total alkaloid content and bulbil yield was enhanced by 90.87% and 29.67% under BR treatment, respectively, compared to the control. We identified 818 (476 up-regulated and 342 down-regulated) and 697 (389 up-regulated and 308 down-regulated) DEGs in the BR-treated and Pcz-treated groups, respectively. Through this annotated data and the Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes (KEGG), the expression patterns of unigenes involved in the ephedrine alkaloid, tropane, piperidine, pyridine alkaloid, indole alkaloid, and isoquinoline alkaloid biosynthesis were observed under BR and Pcz treatments. We identified 11, 8, 2, and 13 unigenes in the ephedrine alkaloid, tropane, piperidine, and pyridine alkaloid, indole alkaloid, and isoquinoline alkaloid biosynthesis, respectively. The expression levels of these unigenes were increased by BR treatment and were decreased by Pcz treatment, compared to the control. The results provided molecular insight into the study of the molecular mechanism of BR-promoted alkaloid biosynthesis.
Keywords: RNA-seq; alkaloid; brassinolide; ephedrine; secondary metabolism.