Cold priming uncouples light- and cold-regulation of gene expression in Arabidopsis thaliana
Bittner A, van Buer J, Baier M – 2020
Background: The majority of stress-sensitive genes responds to cold and high light in the same direction, if plants face the stresses for the first time. As shown recently for a small selection of genes of the core environmental stress response cluster, pre-treatment of Arabidopsis thalianawith a 24 h long 4 degrees C cold stimulus modifies cold regulation of gene expression for up to a week at 20 degrees C, although the primary cold effects are reverted within the first 24 h. Such memory-based regulation is called priming. Here, we analyse the effect of 24 h cold priming on cold regulation of gene expression on a transcriptome-wide scale and investigate if and how cold priming affects light regulation of gene expression. Results: Cold-priming affected cold and excess light regulation of a small subset of genes. In contrast to the strong gene co-regulation observed upon cold and light stress in non-primed plants, most priming-sensitive genes were regulated in a stressor-specific manner in cold-primed plant. Furthermore, almost as much genes were inversely regulated as co-regulated by a 24 h long 4 degrees C cold treatment and exposure to heat-filtered high light (800 mu mol quanta m(- 2) s(- 1)). Gene ontology enrichment analysis revealed that cold priming preferentially supports expression of genes involved in the defence against plant pathogens upon cold triggering. The regulation took place on the cost of the expression of genes involved in growth regulation and transport. On the contrary, cold priming resulted in stronger expression of genes regulating metabolism and development and weaker expression of defence genes in response to high light triggering. qPCR with independently cultivated and treated replicates confirmed the trends observed in the RNASeq guide experiment. Conclusion: A 24 h long priming cold stimulus activates a several days lasting stress memory that controls cold and light regulation of gene expression and adjusts growth and defence regulation in a stressor-specific manner.