Trebouxia is the most common lichen-forming genus of aero-terrestrial green algae and all its species are desiccation tolerant (DT). The molecular bases of this remarkable adaptation are, however, still largely unknown. We applied a transcriptomic approach to a common member of the genus, T. gelatinosa, to investigate the alteration of gene expression occurring after dehydration and subsequent rehydration in comparison to cells kept constantly hydrated. We sequenced, de novo assembled and annotated the transcriptome of axenically cultured T. gelatinosa by using Illumina sequencing technology. We tracked the expression profiles of over 13,000 protein-coding transcripts. During the dehydration/rehydration cycle c. 92 % of the total protein-coding transcripts displayed a stable expression, suggesting that the desiccation tolerance of T. gelatinosa mostly relies on constitutive mechanisms. Dehydration and rehydration affected mainly the gene expression for components of the photosynthetic apparatus, the ROS-scavenging system, Heat Shock Proteins, aquaporins, expansins, and desiccation related proteins (DRPs), which are highly diversified in T. gelatinosa, whereas Late Embryogenesis Abundant Proteins were not affected. Only some of these phenomena were previously observed in other DT green algae, bryophytes and resurrection plants, other traits being distinctive of T. gelatinosa, and perhaps related to its symbiotic lifestyle. Finally, the phylogenetic inference extended to DRPs of other chlorophytes, embryophytes and bacteria clearly pointed out that DRPs of chlorophytes are not orthologous to those of embryophytes: some of them were likely acquired through horizontal gene transfer from extremophile bacteria which live in symbiosis within the lichen thallus.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 18, 2016
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