Crops growing in the field can face dramatic changes in temperature, lack of water, or increased salt in the soil resulting from irrigation. Under these stressful conditions crops cannot grow well and their ability to produce seed and fruit is decreased. Because plants cannot move they have evolved genes that allow them to produce proteins and other molecules that protect them from the multiple harsh environmental conditions they may have to endure. Understanding the mechanisms underlying the plant response to these stresses will allow us to improve crop yield and mitigate the impact of climate change.
A team of scientists from the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, The J. Craig Venter Institute, and the University of Florida, in a project that was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, determined the sequence of thousands of genes expressed under different stress conditions by generating over 40,000 expressed sequence tags (EST) from strawberry plants subjected to high and low temperatures, elevated salinity, drought, or a combination of heat and high salt conditions. The sequences were obtained from the woodland strawberry, a plant that is representative of a large family of commercially grown fruits including peaches, apples, and raspberries, as well as other important crops and ornamentals such as almonds and roses.
The sequences were analyzed to determine their function by comparing them to other plant sequences in the public databases. The study uncovered over 1,000 stress-related genes that had not been previously identified as expressed genes in the Rosaceae family. The extensive amount of data generated by this project not only provides a description of the global gene expression pattern of strawberry plants exposed to different stresses, but it also constitutes an important resource that has helped identify genes in the recently published genome sequence of strawberry. These sequences have also been useful for developing genetic markers for use in modern breeding programs aimed at generating plants that can continue to yield quality fruit in less than favorable environments.
Maximo. Rivarola, Agnes P. Chan, David E. Liebke, Admasu. Melake-Berhan, Hui. Quan, Foo. Cheung, Shu. Ouyang, Kevin M. Folta, Janet P. Slovin and Pablo D. Rabinowicz
Abiotic Stress-Related Expressed Sequence Tags from the Diploid Strawberry Fragaria vesca f. semperflorens
The Plant Genome 2011 4:12-23
[ Abstract ]