Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa
Willd.), a model halophytic crop species, was used to shed light on salt tolerance mechanisms at the transcriptomic level. An RNA-sequencing analysis of genotype R49 at an early vegetative stage was performed by Illumina paired-ends method comparing high salinity and control conditions in a time-course pot experiment. Genome-wide transcriptional salt-induced changes and expression profiling of relevant salt-responsive genes in plants treated or not with 300 mM NaCl were analyzed after 1 h and 5 days. We obtained up to 49 million pairs of short reads with an average length of 101 bp, identifying a total of 2416 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) based on the treatment and time of sampling. In salt-treated vs. control plants, the total number of up-regulated and down-regulated genes was 945 and 1471, respectively. The number of DEGs was higher at 5 days than at 1 h after salt treatment, as reflected in the number of transcription factors, which increased with time. We report a strong transcriptional reprogramming of genes involved in biological processes like oxidation-reduction, response to stress and response to abscisic acid (ABA), and cell wall organization. Transcript analyses by real-time RT- qPCR supported the RNA-seq results and shed light on the contribution of roots and shoots to the overall transcriptional response. In addition, it revealed a time-dependent response in the expression of the analyzed DEGs, including a quick (within 1 h) response for some genes, suggesting a “stress-anticipatory preparedness” in this highly salt-tolerant genotype.
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