Acta Physiologiae Plantarum

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 183–199 | Cite as

Identification of dehydration responsive genes from two non-nodulated alfalfa cultivars using Medicago truncatula microarrays

  • Dong Chen
  • Ming-Xiang Liang
  • Daryll DeWald
  • Bart Weimer
  • Michael D. Peel
  • Bruce Bugbee
  • Jacob Michaelson
  • Elizabeth Davis
  • Yajun Wu
Original Paper


To have a comprehensive understanding of how legume plants respond to drought at the gene expression level and examine whether legume plants that are not fixing nitrogen would behave similar to non-legume plants in drought response, transcriptomes were studied in two non-nodulated alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) cultivars, Ladak and 53V08, when plants were subjected to dehydration stress. Two heat shock-related protein genes were up-regulated in the 3-h stressed shoots in both cultivars. One of them was also up-regulated in the 8-h stressed shoots, along with dehydrin and LEA. A xyloglucan endotransglycosylase and a gene with unknown function were down-regulated in both 3- and 8-h stressed shoots. In roots, nearly half of the 55 genes commonly up-regulated at 3 h are involved in pathogen resistance, insect defense and flavonoid synthesis, which differs from other dehydration-responsive transcriptomes in the literature. Many known drought-responsive genes, such as LEA and dehydrin, were up-regulated after 8 h of treatment. The genes encoding caffeoyl-CoA O-methyl transferase and dirigent were up-regulated in the 3-h stressed roots, while two aquaporin genes were down-regulated, suggesting that lignification and prevention of water loss in roots in initial dehydration stress is a common strategy for both cultivars. The results also indicate the involvement of some specific signal transduction pathways, osmotic adjustment and ion homeostasis regulation during dehydration response. Besides those known dehydration-responsive genes in the literature, some dehydration responses and genes in alfalfa appear to be unique. Our results provide valuable insight into a comprehensive understanding of dehydration response in alfalfa at the molecular level.


Dehydration stress Alfalfa Microarray Gene expression 



This project is supported by a seed grant from the Center for Integrated BioSystems of Utah State University and by the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, Utah State University, Logan, UT. We thank Julie Chad and Alec Hey for technical assistance on alfalfa hydroponic culture. We are grateful to Drs. Gregory May and Naveed Aziz at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation for providing array information and other assistance and Drs. Pinhua Li and Hans Bohnert from the University of Illinois for providing protocols and advice on cDNA labeling and array hybridization. We wish to thank Jenny Ballif for critical reading of the manuscript. This is contribution no. 7873 from the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station journal series.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dong Chen
    • 1
  • Ming-Xiang Liang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daryll DeWald
    • 1
    • 3
  • Bart Weimer
    • 1
    • 4
  • Michael D. Peel
    • 5
  • Bruce Bugbee
    • 2
  • Jacob Michaelson
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Davis
    • 2
  • Yajun Wu
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Integrated BioSystemsUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.Department of Plants, Soils, and ClimateUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  4. 4.Department of Nutrition and Food SciencesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  5. 5.USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research LaboratoryUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

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