Large Differences in Gene Expression Responses to Drought and Heat Stress between Elite Barley Cultivar Scarlett and a Spanish Landrace
Drought causes important losses in crop production every season. Improvement for drought tolerance could take advantage of the diversity held in germplasm collections, much of which has not been incorporated yet into modern breeding. Spanish landraces constitute a promising resource for barley breeding, as they were widely grown until last century and still show good yielding ability under stress. Here, we study the transcriptome expression landscape in two genotypes, an outstanding Spanish landrace-derived inbred line (SBCC073) and a modern cultivar (Scarlett). Gene expression of adult plants after prolonged stresses, either drought or drought combined with heat, was monitored. Transcriptome of mature leaves presented little changes under severe drought, whereas abundant gene expression changes were observed under combined mild drought and heat. Developing inflorescences of SBCC073 exhibited mostly unaltered gene expression, whereas numerous changes were found in the same tissues for Scarlett. Genotypic differences in physiological traits and gene expression patterns confirmed the different behavior of landrace SBCC073 and cultivar Scarlett under abiotic stress, suggesting that they responded to stress following different strategies. A comparison with related studies in barley, addressing gene expression responses to drought, revealed common biological processes, but moderate agreement regarding individual differentially expressed transcripts. Special emphasis was put in the search of co-expressed genes and underlying common regulatory motifs. Overall, 11 transcription factors were identified, and one of them matched cis-regulatory motifs discovered upstream of co-expressed genes involved in those responses.