Comparative analysis of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) leaf transcriptomes reveals genotype-specific salt tolerance mechanisms

BMC Plant Biology
Yunting LeiJianqiang Wu


Soil salinity is an important factor affecting growth, development, and productivity of almost all land plants, including the forage crop alfalfa (Medicago sativa). However, little is known about how alfalfa responds and adapts to salt stress, particularly among different salt-tolerant cultivars. Among seven alfalfa cultivars, we found that Zhongmu-1 (ZM) is relatively salt-tolerant and Xingjiang Daye (XJ) is salt-sensitive. Compared to XJ, ZM showed slower growth under low-salt conditions, but exhibited stronger tolerance to salt stress. RNA-seq analysis revealed 2237 and 1125 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between ZM and XJ in the presence and absence of salt stress, among which many genes are involved in stress-related pathways. After salt treatment, compared with the controls, the number of DEGs in XJ (19373) was about four times of that in ZM (4833). We also detected specific differential gene expression patterns: In response to salt stress, compared with XJ, ZM maintained relatively more stable expression levels of genes related to the ROS and Ca2+ pathways, phytohormone biosynthesis, and Na+/K+ transport. Notably, several salt resistance-associated genes always showed greater levels of expression in ZM than in XJ,...Continue Reading


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