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Nitrogen-driven stem elongation in poplar is linked with wood modification and genes clusters for stress, photosynthesis and cell wall formation.

TitleNitrogen-driven stem elongation in poplar is linked with wood modification and genes clusters for stress, photosynthesis and cell wall formation.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsEuring, D., Bai H., Janz D., & Polle A.
JournalBMC plant biology
Volume14
Issue1
Pagination1591
Date Published2014 Dec 30
ISSN1471-2229
Abstract

BackgroundNitrogen is an important nutrient, often limiting plant productivity and yield. In poplars, woody crops used as feedstock for renewable resources and bioenergy, nitrogen fertilization accelerates growth of the young, expanding stem internodes. The underlying molecular mechanisms of nitrogen use for extension growth in poplars are not well understood. The aim of this study was to dissect the nitrogen-responsive transcriptional network in the elongation zone of Populus trichocarpa in relation to extension growth and cell wall properties.ResultsTranscriptome analyses in the first two internodes of P. trichocarpa stems grown without or with nitrogen fertilization (5 mM NH4NO3) revealed 1037 more than 2-fold differentially expressed genes (DEGs). Co-expression analysis extracted a network containing about one-third of the DEGs with three main complexes of strongly clustered genes. These complexes represented three main processes that were responsive to N-driven growth: Complex 1 integrated growth processes and stress suggesting that genes with established functions in abiotic and biotic stress are also recruited to coordinate growth. Complex 2 was enriched in genes with decreased transcript abundance and functionally annotated as photosynthetic hub. Complex 3 was a hub for secondary cell wall formation connecting well-known transcription factors that control secondary cell walls with genes for the formation of cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin. Anatomical and biochemical analysis supported that N-driven growth resulted in early secondary cell wall formation in the elongation zone with thicker cell walls and increased lignin. These alterations contrasted the N influence on the secondary xylem, where thinner cell walls with lower lignin contents than in unfertilized trees were formed.ConclusionThis study uncovered that nitrogen-responsive elongation growth of poplar internodes is linked with abiotic stress, suppression of photosynthetic genes and stimulation of genes for cell wall formation. Anatomical and biochemical analysis supported increased accumulation of cell walls and secondary metabolites in the elongation zone. The finding of a nitrogen-responsive cell wall hub may have wider implications for the improvement of tree nitrogen use efficiency and opens new perspectives on the enhancement of wood composition as a feedstock for biofuels.

DOI10.1186/s12870-014-0391-3
Alternate JournalBMC Plant Biol.
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