Transcript analysis in two alfalfa salt tolerance selected breeding populations relative to a non-tolerant population.

Genome / National Research Council Canada = Genome / Conseil national de recherches Canada

PubMedID: 28045337

Gruber MY, Xia J, Yu M, Steppuhn H, Wall K, Messer D, Sharpe AG, Acharya SN, Wishart DS, Johnson D, Miller DR, Taheri A. Transcript analysis in two alfalfa salt tolerance selected breeding populations relative to a non-tolerant population. Genome. 2016;1-24.
With the growing limitations on arable land, alfalfa (a widely cultivated, low-input forage) is now being selected to extend cultivation into saline lands for low-cost biofeedstock purposes. Here, minerals and transcriptome profiles were compared between two new salinity-tolerant North American alfalfa breeding populations and a more salinity-sensitive western Canadian alfalfa population grown under hydroponic saline conditions. All three populations accumulated two-fold higher sodium in roots than shoots as a function of increased electrical conductivity. At least 50% of differentially expressed genes (p < 0. 05) were down-regulated in the salt-sensitive population growing under high salinity, while expression remained unchanged in the saline-tolerant populations. In particular, most reduction in transcript levels in the salt-sensitive population was observed in genes specifying cell wall structural components, lipids, secondary metabolism, auxin and ethylene hormones, development, transport, signalling, heat shock, proteolysis, pathogenesis-response, abiotic stress, RNA processing, and protein metabolism. Transcript diversity for transcription factors, protein modification, and protein degradation genes was also more strongly affected in salt-tolerant CW064027 than in salt-tolerant Bridgeview and salt-sensitive Rangelander, while both saline-tolerant populations showed more substantial up-regulation in redox-related genes and B-ZIP transcripts. The report highlights the first use of bulked genotypes as replicated samples to compare the transcriptomes of obligate out-cross breeding populations in alfalfa.