BMC Plant Biology (Dec 2019)

Full-length transcriptome sequencing reveals the low-temperature-tolerance mechanism of Medicago falcata roots

  • Guowen Cui,
  • Hua Chai,
  • Hang Yin,
  • Mei Yang,
  • Guofu Hu,
  • Mingying Guo,
  • Rugeletu Yi,
  • Pan Zhang

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 19, no. 1
pp. 1 – 16


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Abstract Background Low temperature is one of the main environmental factors that limits crop growth, development, and production. Medicago falcata is an important leguminous herb that is widely distributed worldwide. M. falcata is related to alfalfa but is more tolerant to low temperature than alfalfa. Understanding the low temperature tolerance mechanism of M. falcata is important for the genetic improvement of alfalfa. Results In this study, we explored the transcriptomic changes in the roots of low-temperature-treated M. falcata plants by combining SMRT sequencing and NGS technologies. A total of 115,153 nonredundant sequences were obtained, and 8849 AS events, 73,149 SSRs, and 4189 lncRNAs were predicted. A total of 111,587 genes from SMRT sequencing were annotated, and 11,369 DEGs involved in plant hormone signal transduction, protein processing in endoplasmic reticulum, carbon metabolism, glycolysis/gluconeogenesis, starch and sucrose metabolism, and endocytosis pathways were identified. We characterized 1538 TF genes into 45 TF gene families, and the most abundant TF family was the WRKY family, followed by the ERF, MYB, bHLH and NAC families. A total of 134 genes, including 101 whose expression was upregulated and 33 whose expression was downregulated, were differentially coexpressed at all five temperature points. PB40804, PB75011, PB110405 and PB108808 were found to play crucial roles in the tolerance of M. falcata to low temperature. WGCNA revealed that the MEbrown module was significantly correlated with low-temperature stress in M. falcata. Electrolyte leakage was correlated with most genetic modules and verified that electrolyte leakage can be used as a direct stress marker in physiological assays to indicate cell membrane damage from low-temperature stress. The consistency between the qRT-PCR results and RNA-seq analyses confirmed the validity of the RNA-seq data and the analysis of the regulatory mechanism of low-temperature stress on the basis of the transcriptome. Conclusions The full-length transcripts generated in this study provide a full characterization of the transcriptome of M. falcata and may be useful for mining new low-temperature stress-related genes specific to M. falcata. These new findings could facilitate the understanding of the low-temperature-tolerance mechanism of M. falcata.