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Heat-stress-induced sprouting and differential gene expression in growing potato tubers: Comparative transcriptomics with that induced by postharvest sprouting
Horticulture Research  (IF6.793),  Pub Date : 2021-10-15, DOI: 10.1038/s41438-021-00680-2
Guodong Zhang, Ruimin Tang, Suyan Niu, Huaijun Si, Qing Yang, Om P. Rajora, Xiu-Qing Li

Crops face increased risk from heat stress due to climate change. Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) tubers grown in hot summers often have defects including pre-harvest sprouting (“heat sprouts”). We have used 18 potato cultivars to investigate whether heat stress (HS) conditions alone could cause heat sprouting and dormancy changes in tubers. We also examined transcriptomic responses of potato to HS and whether these responses are like those induced by postharvest sprouting. We demonstrated that HS alone caused heat sprouts and shortened postharvest dormancy period, heat-sprouted tubers became dormant after harvest, and cultivars varied substantially for producing heat spouts but there was no clear association with cultivar maturity earliness. Cultivar Innovator did not show any heat sprouts and still had long dormancy. Dormancy-associated genes (DOG1 and SLP) were downregulated in HS tubers like in postharvest sprouting tubers. We have identified 1201 differentially expressed genes, 14 enriched GO terms and 12 enriched KEGG pathways in response to HS in growing tubers of ‘Russet Burbank’. Transcriptomic response of ‘Russet Burbank’ to HS showed significant similarities to that of postharvest non-HS sprouted tubers. Gibberellin biosynthesis pathway was enriched in heat-stressed tubers and was likely involved in heat sprouting and dormancy release. Heat sprouting and postharvest sprouting shared common candidate genes and had significant similarity in gene expression. Our study has significance for selecting potato cultivars for farming, planning storage and utilization of heat-stressed tubers, identifying sprouting-related genes, understanding heat-stress biology, and breeding heat-tolerant potato cultivars, especially for sustainable potato production under climate change.