The genetic basis for nitrogen (N)-response and N use efficiency (NUE) must be found in N-responsive gene expression or protein regulation. Our transcriptomic analysis of nitrate response in two contrasting rice genotypes of Oryza sativa ssp. Indica (Nidhi with low NUE and Panvel1 with high NUE) revealed the processes/functions underlying differential N-response/NUE. The microarray analysis of low nitrate response (1.5 mM) relative to normal nitrate control (15 mM) used potted 21-days old whole plants. It revealed 1,327 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) exclusive to Nidhi and 666 exclusive to Panvel1, apart from 70 common DEGs, of which 10 were either oppositely expressed or regulated to different extents. Gene ontology analyses revealed that photosynthetic processes were among the very few processes common to both the genotypes in low N response. Those unique to Nidhi include cell division, nitrogen utilization, cytoskeleton, etc. in low N-response, whereas those unique to Panvel1 include signal transduction, protein import into the nucleus, and mitochondria. This trend of a few common but mostly unique categories was also true for transporters, transcription factors, microRNAs, and post-translational modifications, indicating their differential involvement in Nidhi and Panvel1. Protein-protein interaction networks constructed using DEG-associated experimentally validated interactors revealed subnetworks involved in cytoskeleton organization, cell wall, etc. in Nidhi, whereas in Panvel1, it was chloroplast development. NUE genes were identified by selecting yield-related genes from N-responsive DEGs and their co-localization on NUE-QTLs revealed the differential distribution of NUE-genes between genotypes but on the same chromosomes 1 and 3. Such hotspots are important for NUE breeders.
Sharma, N., Kumari, S., Jaiswal, D.K. and Raghuram, N.
Year of publication
Frontiers in Plant Science