Differential Tolerance to Heat Stress of Young Leaves Compared to Mature Leaves of Whole Plants Relate to Differential Transcriptomes Involved in Metabolic Adaptations to Stress
Abstract Plants respond to heat shock by regulating gene expression. While transcriptomic changes in response to heat stress are well studied, it is not known whether young and old leaves reprogram transcription differently upon stress. When whole plants of Arabidopsis thaliana were subjected to heat shock, young leaves were affected significantly less than older leaves based on measurements of tissue damage. To identify quantitative changes to transcriptomes between young and old leaves upon heat stress, we used RNA-Sequencing on young and old leaves from plants exposed to control and heat stress at 42 °C for 1 h and 10 h. A total of 6472 differentially expressed genes between young and old leaf were identified under control condition, and 9126 and 6891 under 1 h and 10 h heat stress respectively. Analyses of differentially expressed transcripts led to the identification of multiple functional clusters of genes that may have potential roles in the increased heat tolerance of young leaves including higher level of expression in young leaves of genes encoding chaperones, heat shock proteins and proteins known in oxidative stress resistance. Differential levels of transcripts for genes implicated in pectin metabolism, cutin and wax biosynthesis, pentose and glucuronate interconversions, cellulose degradation, indole glucosinolate metabolism and RNA splicing between young and old leaves under heat stress suggest that cell wall remodeling, cuticular wax synthesis and carbohydrate modifications impacted by alternative splicing may also have roles in the improved heat stress tolerance of young leaves.