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Tissue-level transcriptomic responses to local and distal chilling reveal potential chilling survival mechanisms in maize

Chunmei Xue, Yuan Jiang, Zhixue Wang, Xiaohui Shan, Yaping Yuan,

Abstract: Chilling is a major stress to plants of subtropical and tropical origins including maize (Zea mays L.). To reveal molecular mechanisms underlying chilling tolerance and survival, we investigated transcriptomic responses to chilling stress in differentiated leaves and roots as well as in crowns with meristem activity in maize. Chilling stress on shoots and roots is found to each contributes to seedling lethality in maize. Comparison of maize lines with different chilling tolerance capacities reveals that chilling survival is highly associated with upregulation of abscisic acid biosynthesis and response as well as transcriptional regulators in leaves and crowns. It is also associated with the downregulation of translation in leaves and heat response in crowns. Chilling treatment on whole or part of the plants reveals that response to distal-chilling is very distinct from, and sometimes opposite to, response to local- or whole-plant chilling in both leaves and roots, suggesting a communication between shoots and roots in environmental response. This study thus provides transcriptomic responses in leaves, roots and crowns under differential chilling stresses in maize and reveals potential chilling tolerance and survival mechanisms which lays ground for improving chilling tolerance in crop plants.
Keywords: survival / maize / chilling tolerance / local / chilling stress in differentiated

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