Transcriptional and Metabolomic Analyses Indicate that Cell Wall Properties are Associated with Drought Tolerance in Brachypodium distachyon

Ingo Lenk, Lorraine Fisher, Martin Vickers, Aderemi Akinyemi, Thomas Didion, Martin Swain, Christian Sig Jensen, Luis Mur, Maurice Bosch

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Brachypodium distachyon is an established model for drought tolerance. We previously identified accessions exhibiting high tolerance, susceptibility and intermediate tolerance to drought; respectively, ABR8, KOZ1 and ABR4. Transcriptomics and metabolomic approaches were used to define tolerance mechanisms. Transcriptional analyses suggested relatively few drought responsive genes in ABR8 compared to KOZ1. Linking these to gene ontology (GO) terms indicated enrichment for “regulated stress response”, “plant cell wall” and “oxidative stress” associated genes. Further, tolerance correlated with pre-existing differences in cell wall-associated gene expression including glycoside hydrolases, pectin methylesterases, expansins and a pectin acetylesterase. Metabolomic assessments of the same samples also indicated few significant changes in ABR8 with drought. Instead, pre-existing differences in the cell wall-associated metabolites correlated with drought tolerance. Although other features, e.g., jasmonate signaling were suggested in our study, cell wall-focused events appeared to be predominant. Our data suggests two different modes through which the cell wall could confer drought tolerance: (i) An active response mode linked to stress induced changes in cell wall features, and (ii) an intrinsic mode where innate differences in cell wall composition and architecture are important. Both modes seem to contribute to ABR8 drought tolerance. Identification of the exact mechanisms through which the cell wall confers drought tolerance will be important in order to inform development of drought tolerant crops
Original languageEnglish
Article number1758
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2019


  • Brachypodium distachyon
  • cell wall
  • drought
  • FIE-MS
  • mass spectroscopy
  • metabolite profiling
  • RNA-seq
  • transcriptome profiling
  • Metabolite profiling
  • Mass spectroscopy
  • Cell wall
  • Transcriptome profiling
  • Drought
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Plant Proteins/biosynthesis
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Brachypodium/genetics
  • Cell Wall/genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Dehydration/genetics


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