Transcriptome analysis of Pinus halepensis under drought stress and during recovery

Hagar Fox, Adi Doron-Faigenboim, Gilor Kelly, Ronny Bourstein, Ziv Attia, Jing Zhou, Yosef Moshe, Menachem Moshelion, Rakefet David-Schwartz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Forest trees use various strategies to cope with drought stress and these strategies involve complex molecular mechanisms. Pinus halepensis Miller (Aleppo pine) is found throughout the Mediterranean basin and is one of the most drought-tolerant pine species. In order to decipher the molecular mechanisms that P. halepensis uses to withstand drought, we performed large-scale physiological and transcriptome analyses. We selected a mature tree from a semi-arid area with suboptimal growth conditions for clonal propagation through cuttings. We then used a high-throughput experimental system to continuously monitor whole-plant transpiration rates, stomatal conductance and the vapor pressure deficit. The transcriptomes of plants were examined at six physiological stages: pre-stomatal response, partial stomatal closure, minimum transpiration, post-irrigation, partial recovery and full recovery. At each stage, data from plants exposed to the drought treatment were compared with data collected from well-irrigated control plants. A drought-stressed P. halepensis transcriptome was created using paired-end RNA-seq. In total, ∼6000 differentially expressed, non-redundant transcripts were identified between drought-treated and control trees. Cluster analysis has revealed stress-induced down-regulation of transcripts related to photosynthesis, reactive oxygen species (ROS)-scavenging through the ascorbic acid (AsA)-glutathione cycle, fatty acid and cell wall biosynthesis, stomatal activity, and the biosynthesis of flavonoids and terpenoids. Up-regulated processes included chlorophyll degradation, ROS-scavenging through AsA-independent thiol-mediated pathways, abscisic acid response and accumulation of heat shock proteins, thaumatin and exordium. Recovery from drought induced strong transcription of retrotransposons, especially the retrovirus-related transposon Tnt1-94. The drought-related transcriptome illustrates this species' dynamic response to drought and recovery and unravels novel mechanisms.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)423-441
Number of pages19
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2017.


  • Conifers
  • Drought resistance
  • Next generation sequencing
  • Retrotransposable elements


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