Key message: Spatio-temporal expression patterns of 13 out of 119 poplarWRKYgenes indicated dynamic and tissue-specific roles of WRKY family proteins in salinity stress tolerance.
To understand the expression patterns of poplar WRKY genes under salinity stress, 51 of the 119 WRKY genes were selected from di-haploid Populus simonii × P. nigra by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). We used qRT-PCR to profile the expression of the top 13 genes under salinity stress across seven time points, and employed RNA-Seq platforms to cross-validate it. Results demonstrated that all the 13 WRKY genes were expressed in root, stem, and leaf tissues, but their expression levels and overall patterns varied notably in these tissues. Regarding overall gene expression in roots, the 13 genes were significantly highly expressed at all six time points after the treatment, reaching the plateau of expression at hour 9. In leaves, the 13 genes were similarly up-regulated from 3 to 12 h in response to NaCl treatment. In stems, however, expression levels of the 13 genes did not show significant changes after the NaCl treatment. Regarding individual gene expression across the time points and the three tissues, the 13 genes can be classified into three clusters: the lowly expressed Cluster 1 containing PthWRKY28, 45 and 105; intermediately expressed Clusters 2 including PthWRKY56, 88 and 116; and highly expressed Cluster 3 consisting of PthWRKY41, 44, 51, 61, 62, 75 and 106. In general, genes in Cluster 2 and 3 displayed a dynamic pattern of “induced amplification—recovering”, suggesting that these WRKY genes and corresponding pathways may play a critical role in mediating salt response and tolerance in a dynamic and tissue-specific manner.
- Gene expression
- Populus simonii × P. nigra
- Salinity stress