Publication Title: 
Neji et al. (2019)
Comparative analysis of two sister Erythrophleum species (Leguminosae) reveal contrasting transcriptome-wide responses to early drought stress.
Neji Mohamed, Gorel Anais, Ojeda Dario I, Duminil Jérôme, Kastally Chedly, Steppe Kathy, Fayolle Adeline, Hardy Olivier J
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With the ongoing climate change, African rainforests are expected to experience severe drought events in the future. In Africa, the tropical genus Erythrophleum (Fabaceae) includes two forest sister timber tree species displaying contrasting geographical distributions. Erythrophleum ivorense is adapted to wet evergreen Guineo-Congolian forests, whereas E. suaveolens occurs in a wider range of climates, being found in moist dense forests but also in gallery forests under a relatively drier climate. This geographical distribution pattern suggests that the two species might cope differently to drought at the genomic level. Yet, the genetic basis of tolerance response to drought stress in both species is still uncharacterized. To bridge this gap, we performed an RNA-seq approach on seedlings from each species to monitor their transcriptional responses at different levels of drought stress (0, 2 and 6 weeks after stopping watering seedlings). Monitoring of wilting symptoms revealed that E. suaveolens displayed an earlier phenotypic response to drought stress than E. ivorense. At the transcriptomic level, results revealed 2020 (1204 down-regulated/816 up-regulated) and 1495 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in response to drought stress from a total of 67,432 and 66,605 contigs assembled in E. ivorense and E. suaveolens, respectively. After identifying 30,374 orthologs between species, we found that only 7 of them were DEGs shared between species, while 587 and 458 were differentially expressed only in E. ivorense or E. suaveolens, respectively. GO and KEGG enrichment analysis revealed that the two species differ in terms of significantly regulated pathways as well as the number and expression profile of DEGs (Up/Down) associated with each pathway in the two stress stages. Our results suggested that the two studied species react differently to drought. E. suaveolens seems displaying a prompt response to drought at its early stage strengthened by the down-regulation of many DEGs encoding for signaling and metabolism-related pathways. A considerable up-regulation of these pathways was also found in E. ivorense at the late stage of drought, suggesting this species may be a late responder. Overall, our data may serve as basis for further understanding the genetic control of drought tolerance in tropical trees and favor the selection of crucial genes for genetically enhancing drought resistance.
  • Adaptation, Physiological genetics
  • Africa
  • Droughts
  • Fabaceae genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA methods
  • Stress, Physiological genetics
  • Transcriptome genetics
  • Trees genetics
  • Water
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