Identification of dehydration responsive genes from two non-nodulated alfalfa cultivars using Medicago truncatula microarrays

Dong Chen, Ming Xiang Liang, Daryll DeWald, Bart C Weimer, Michael D. Peel, Bruce Bugbee, Jacob Michaelson, Elizabeth Davis, Yajun Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


To have a comprehensive understanding of how legume plants respond to drought at the gene expression level and examine whether legume plants that are not fixing nitrogen would behave similar to non-legume plants in drought response, transcriptomes were studied in two non-nodulated alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) cultivars, Ladak and 53V08, when plants were subjected to dehydration stress. Two heat shock-related protein genes were up-regulated in the 3-h stressed shoots in both cultivars. One of them was also up-regulated in the 8-h stressed shoots, along with dehydrin and LEA. A xyloglucan endotransglycosylase and a gene with unknown function were down-regulated in both 3- and 8-h stressed shoots. In roots, nearly half of the 55 genes commonly up-regulated at 3 h are involved in pathogen resistance, insect defense and flavonoid synthesis, which differs from other dehydration-responsive transcriptomes in the literature. Many known drought-responsive genes, such as LEA and dehydrin, were up-regulated after 8 h of treatment. The genes encoding caffeoyl-CoA O-methyl transferase and dirigent were up-regulated in the 3-h stressed roots, while two aquaporin genes were down-regulated, suggesting that lignification and prevention of water loss in roots in initial dehydration stress is a common strategy for both cultivars. The results also indicate the involvement of some specific signal transduction pathways, osmotic adjustment and ion homeostasis regulation during dehydration response. Besides those known dehydration-responsive genes in the literature, some dehydration responses and genes in alfalfa appear to be unique. Our results provide valuable insight into a comprehensive understanding of dehydration response in alfalfa at the molecular level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-199
Number of pages17
JournalActa Physiologiae Plantarum
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Alfalfa
  • Dehydration stress
  • Gene expression
  • Microarray

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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