The passion fruit (Passiflora edulis
Sims), also known as the purple granadilla, is widely cultivated as the new darling of the fruit market throughout southern China. This exotic and perennial climber is adapted to warm and humid climates, and thus is generally intolerant of cold. There is limited information about gene regulation and signaling pathways related to the cold stress response in this species. In this study, two transcriptome libraries (KEDU_AP vs. GX_AP) were constructed from the aerial parts of cold-tolerant and cold-susceptible varieties of P. edulis
, respectively. Overall, 126,284,018 clean reads were obtained, and 86,880 unigenes with a mean size of 1449 bp were assembled. Of these, there were 64,067 (73.74%) unigenes with significant similarity to publicly available plant protein sequences. Expression profiles were generated, and 3045 genes were found to be significantly differentially expressed between the KEDU_AP and GX_AP libraries, including 1075 (35.3%) up-regulated and 1970 (64.7%) down-regulated. These included 36 genes in enriched pathways of plant hormone signal transduction, and 56 genes encoding putative transcription factors. Six genes involved in the ICE1–CBF–COR pathway were induced in the cold-tolerant variety, and their expression levels were further verified using quantitative real-time PCR. This report is the first to identify genes and signaling pathways involved in cold tolerance using high-throughput transcriptome sequencing in P. edulis
. These findings may provide useful insights into the molecular mechanisms regulating cold tolerance and genetic breeding in Passiflora
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