Transcriptome analysis of shade avoidance and shade tolerance in conifers
Planta 2019, 250(1):299-318

Ranade S, Delhomme N, García-Gil MR

Abstract:
Gymnosperms respond differently to light intensity and R:FR; although some aspects of shade response appear conserved, yet underlying mechanisms seem to be diverse in gymnosperms as compared to angiosperms.
Shade avoidance syndrome (SAS) is well-characterized in the shade intolerant model species Arabidopsis thaliana whereas much less is known about shade tolerance response (STR), yet regulation of SAS and STR with reference to conifers remains poorly understood. We conducted a comparative study of two conifer species with contrasting responses to shade, Scots pine (shade-intolerant) and Norway spruce (shade-tolerant), with the aim to understand mechanisms behind SAS and STR in conifers. Pine and spruce seedlings were grown under controlled light and shade conditions, and hypocotyl and seedling elongation following different light treatments were determined in both species as indicators of shade responses. Red to far-red light ratio (R:FR) was shown to trigger the shade response in Norway spruce. In Scots pine, we observed an interaction between R:FR and light intensity. RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) data revealed that SAS and STR responses included changes in expression of genes involved primarily in hormone signalling and pigment biosynthesis. From the RNA-Seq analysis, we propose that although some aspects of shade response appear to be conserved in angiosperms and gymnosperms, yet the underlying mechanisms may be different in gymnosperms that warrants further research.

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