The ability to grow crops under low-water conditions is a significant advantage in relation to global food security. Bambara groundnut is an underutilised crop grown by subsistence farmers in Africa and is known to survive in regions of water deficit. This study focuses on the analysis of the transcriptomic changes in two bambara groundnut landraces in response to dehydration stress. A cross-species hybridisation approach based on the Soybean Affymetrix GeneChip array has been employed. The differential gene expression analysis of a water-limited treatment, however, showed that the two landraces responded with almost completely different sets of genes. Hence, both landraces with very similar genotypes (as assessed by the hybridisation of genomic DNA onto the Soybean Affymetrix GeneChip) showed contrasting transcriptional behaviour in response to dehydration stress. In addition, both genotypes showed a high expression of dehydration-associated genes, even under water-sufficient conditions. Several gene regulators were identified as potentially important. Some are already known, such as WRKY40
, but others may also be considered, namely PRR7
-11, CONSTANS-like 1, MYB60
, and a Zinc-finger protein. These data provide a basis for drought trait research in the bambara groundnut, which will facilitate functional genomics studies. An analysis of this dataset has identified that both genotypes appear to be in a dehydration-ready state, even in the absence of dehydration stress, and may have adapted in different ways to achieve drought resistance. This will help in understanding the mechanisms underlying the ability of crops to produce viable yields under drought conditions. In addition, cross-species hybridisation to the soybean microarray has been shown to be informative for investigating the bambara groundnut transcriptome.
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