Drought and recovery in barley: key gene networks and retrotransposon response

Maitry Paul, Jaakko Tanskanen, Marko Jääskeläinen, Wei Chang, Ahan Dalal, Menachem Moshelion, Alan H. Schulman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: During drought, plants close their stomata at a critical soil water content (SWC), together with making diverse physiological, developmental, and biochemical responses. Methods: Using precision-phenotyping lysimeters, we imposed pre-flowering drought on four barley varieties (Arvo, Golden Promise, Hankkija 673, and Morex) and followed their physiological responses. For Golden Promise, we carried out RNA-seq on leaf transcripts before and during drought and during recovery, also examining retrotransposon BARE1expression. Transcriptional data were subjected to network analysis. Results: The varieties differed by their critical SWC (ϴcrit), Hankkija 673 responding at the highest and Golden Promise at the lowest. Pathways connected to drought and salinity response were strongly upregulated during drought; pathways connected to growth and development were strongly downregulated. During recovery, growth and development pathways were upregulated; altogether, 117 networked genes involved in ubiquitin-mediated autophagy were downregulated. Discussion: The differential response to SWC suggests adaptation to distinct rainfall patterns. We identified several strongly differentially expressed genes not earlier associated with drought response in barley. BARE1 transcription is strongly transcriptionally upregulated by drought and downregulated during recovery unequally between the investigated cultivars. The downregulation of networked autophagy genes suggests a role for autophagy in drought response; its importance to resilience should be further investigated.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1193284
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Paul, Tanskanen, Jääskeläinen, Chang, Dalal, Moshelion and Schulman.


  • Hordeum vulgare
  • autophagy
  • barley
  • drought
  • gene expression
  • network analysis
  • resilience (environmental)


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