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Transcriptome profiling illustrates expression signatures of dehydration tolerance in developing grasspea seedlings

  • Divya Rathi
  • Saurabh Gayali
  • Akanksha Pareek
  • Subhra Chakraborty
  • Niranjan ChakrabortyEmail author
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Orphan Crops


Main conclusion

This study highlights dehydration-mediated temporal changes in physicochemical, transcriptome and metabolome profiles indicating altered gene expression and metabolic shifts, underlying endurance and adaptation to stress tolerance in the marginalized crop, grasspea.

Grasspea, often regarded as an orphan legume, is recognized to be fairly tolerant to water-deficit stress. In the present study, 3-week-old grasspea seedlings were subjected to dehydration by withholding water over a period of 144 h. While there were no detectable phenotypic changes in the seedlings till 48 h, the symptoms appeared during 72 h and aggravated upon prolonged dehydration. The physiological responses to water-deficit stress during 72–96 h displayed a decrease in pigments, disruption in membrane integrity and osmotic imbalance. We evaluated the temporal effects of dehydration at the transcriptome and metabolome levels. In total, 5201 genes of various functional classes including transcription factors, cytoplasmic enzymes and structural cell wall proteins, among others, were found to be dehydration-responsive. Further, metabolome profiling revealed 59 dehydration-responsive metabolites including sugar alcohols and amino acids. Despite the lack of genome information of grasspea, the time course of physicochemical and molecular responses suggest a synchronized dehydration response. The cross-species comparison of the transcriptomes and metabolomes with other legumes provides evidence for marked molecular diversity. We propose a hypothetical model that highlights novel biomarkers and explain their relevance in dehydration-response, which would facilitate targeted breeding and aid in commencing crop improvement efforts.


Grasspea Transcript diversity Metabolome profiling Water-deficit Stress response Biomarkers 



Abscisic acid


Basic helix-loop-helix


Calmodulin-like 15


Dry weight


Ethylene responsive factor


Fresh weight


Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase


Heat shock protein


Jasmonic acid




Purple acid phosphatase


Protein phosphatase 2C


Reactive oxygen species


Relative water content


Simple sequence repeats


Transcription factors


β-N-oxalyl-α,β-diaminopropionic acid



We express our sincere gratitude to Tatyana Goldberg, Technical University of Munich, Germany, for helping with the localization prediction.


This work was supported by Grants (38/1385/14/EMR-II) from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Govt. of India. We also thank the CSIR for providing predoctoral fellowship to DR and SG as well as University Grants Commission (UGC) for providing predoctoral fellowship to AP.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Divya Rathi
    • 1
  • Saurabh Gayali
    • 1
  • Akanksha Pareek
    • 1
  • Subhra Chakraborty
    • 1
  • Niranjan Chakraborty
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.National Institute of Plant Genome ResearchJawaharlal Nehru University CampusNew DelhiIndia

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