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Comparative transcriptome and metabolome analyses provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying taproot thickening in Panax notoginseng

Li, Xue-Jiao, Yang, Jian-Li, Hao, Bing, Lu, Ying-Chun, Qian, Zhi-Long, Li, Ying, Ye, Shuang, Tang, Jun-Rong, Chen, Mo, Long, Guang-Qiang, Zhao, Yan, Zhang, Guang-Hui, Chen, Jun-Wen, Fan, Wei, Yang, Sheng-Chao
BMC plant biology 2019 v.19 no.1 pp. 451
1,4-alpha-glucan branching enzyme, Panax notoginseng, arginine, cell walls, crops, fructose, gene expression, gene expression regulation, gene ontology, genes, glucose, malates, medicinal plants, metabolism, metabolites, metabolome, plant hormones, saponins, signal transduction, starch, sucrose, tap roots, transcription (genetics), transcriptome
BACKGROUND: Taproot thickening is a complex biological process that is dependent on the coordinated expression of genes controlled by both environmental and developmental factors. Panax notoginseng is an important Chinese medicinal herb that is characterized by an enlarged taproot as the main organ of saponin accumulation. However, the molecular mechanisms of taproot enlargement are poorly understood. RESULTS: A total of 29,957 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified during the thickening process in the taproots of P. notoginseng. Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway enrichment revealed that DEGs associated with “plant hormone signal transduction,” “starch and sucrose metabolism,” and “phenylpropanoid biosynthesis” were predominantly enriched. Further analysis identified some critical genes (e.g., RNase-like major storage protein, DA1-related protein, and Starch branching enzyme I) and metabolites (e.g., sucrose, glucose, fructose, malate, and arginine) that potentially control taproot thickening. Several aspects including hormone crosstalk, transcriptional regulation, homeostatic regulation between sugar and starch, and cell wall metabolism, were identified as important for the thickening process in the taproot of P. notoginseng. CONCLUSION: The results provide a molecular regulatory network of taproot thickening in P. notoginseng and facilitate the further characterization of the genes responsible for taproot formation in root medicinal plants or crops.