Analysis of controlling genes for tiller growth of Psathyrostachys juncea based on transcriptome sequencing technology


Abstract Background Tillering is a complicated process in plant and is a significant trait that affects biomass and seed yield of bunch grass Psathyrostachys juncea, a typical perennial forage species. To clarify the regulatory mechanisms of tillering in P. juncea and to explore related candidate genes could be helpful to improve the seed and forage yield of perennial gramineous forages. We selected the tiller node tissues of P. juncea for transcriptome sequencing to determine the differentially expressed genes (DEG) between dense and sparse tillering genotypes. The metabolic pathway was studied, candidate genes were screened, and reference genes stability were evaluated. Results The results showed that approximately 5466 DEGs were identified between the two genotypes with dense and sparse tillers of P. juncea, which significantly differed in tiller number. Tillering regulation pathways analysis suggested that DEGs closely related to the biosynthesis of three plant hormones, namely auxin (IAA), cytokinin (CTK), and strigolactones (SLs), while “biosynthesis of lignin” and “nitrogen metabolism” have remarkable differences between the dense and sparse tillering genotypes. Meanwhile, the reference gene Actin1, having the best stability, was screened from twelve genes with highest expression level and was used in verification of ten tillering related candidate genes. Conclusions The tillering mechanism of perennial grass P. juncea was expounded by transcriptome analysis of tiller node tissues. We demonstrated that dense-tillering genotypes may be distinguished by their low expression patterns of genes involved in SL, IAA, and high expression patterns of genes involved in CTK biosynthesis at the tillering stage, and nitrogen metabolism and lignin biosynthesis can also affect the number of tillers. Furthermore, the expression level of ten tillering related candidate genes were verified using Actin1 as reference gene. These candidate genes provide valuable breeding resources for marker assisted selection and yield traits improvement of P. juncea.

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