Comparative Transcriptomics and Co-Expression Networks Reveal Tissue- and Genotype-Specific Responses of qDTYs to Reproductive-Stage Drought Stress in Rice (Oryza sativa L.)

Jeshurun Asher Tarun, Ramil Mauleon, Juan David Arbelaez, Sheryl Catausan, Shalabh Dixit, Arvind Kumar, Patrick Brown, Ajay Kohli, Tobias Kretzschmar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is more sensitive to drought stress than other cereals. To dissect molecular mechanisms underlying drought-tolerant yield in rice, we applied differential expression and co-expression network approaches to transcriptomes from flag-leaf and emerging panicle tissues of a drought-tolerant yield introgression line, DTY-IL, and the recurrent parent Swarna, under moderate reproductive-stage drought stress. Protein turnover and efficient reactive oxygen species scavenging were found to be the driving factors in both tissues. In the flag-leaf, the responses further included maintenance of photosynthesis and cell wall reorganization, while in the panicle biosynthesis of secondary metabolites was found to play additional roles. Hub genes of importance in differential drought responses included an expansin in the flag-leaf and two peroxidases in the panicle. Overlaying differential expression data with allelic variation in DTY-IL quantitative trait loci allowed for the prioritization of candidate genes. They included a differentially regulated auxin-responsive protein, with DTY-IL-specific amino acid changes in conserved domains, as well as a protein kinase with a DTY-IL-specific frameshift in the C-terminal region. The approach highlights how the integration of differential expression and allelic variation can aid in the discovery of mechanism and putative causal contribution underlying quantitative trait loci for drought-tolerant yield.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1124
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 24 2020


  • co-expression network
  • transcriptomics
  • rice
  • qDTYs
  • reproductive-stage drought
  • drought-tolerant-yield

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