RNA-seq analysis of short fiber mutants Ligon-lintless-1 (Li 1 ) and - 2 (Li 2 ) revealed important role of aquaporins in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) fiber elongation
BACKGROUNDCotton fiber length is a key determinant of fiber quality for the textile industry. Understanding the molecular basis of fiber elongation would provide a means for improvement of fiber length. Ligon lintless-1 (Li 1 ) and Ligon lintless-2 (Li 2 ) are monogenic and dominant mutations, that result in an extreme reduction in the length of lint fiber to approximately 6 mm on mature seeds. In a near-isogenic state with wild type (WT) cotton these two short fiber mutants provide an excellent model system to study mechanisms of fiber elongation.
RESULTSWe used next generation sequencing (RNA-seq) to identify common fiber elongation related genes in developing fibers of Li 1 and Li 2 mutants growing in the field and a greenhouse. We found a large number of differentially expressed genes common to both mutants, including 531 up-regulated genes and 652 down-regulated genes. Major intrinsic proteins or aquaporins were one of the most significantly over-represented gene families among common down-regulated genes in Li 1 and Li 2 fibers. The members of three subfamilies of aquaporins, including plasma membrane intrinsic proteins, tonoplast intrinsic proteins and NOD26-like intrinsic proteins were down-regulated in short fiber mutants. The osmotic concentration and the concentrations of soluble sugars were lower in fiber cells of both short fiber mutants than in WT, whereas the concentrations of K(+) and malic acid were significantly higher in mutants during rapid cell elongation.
CONCLUSIONSWe found that the aquaporins were the most down-regulated gene family in both short fiber mutants. The osmolality and concentrations of soluble sugars were less in saps of Li 1 - Li 2 , whereas the concentrations of malic acid, K(+) and other detected ions were significantly higher in saps of mutants than in WT. These results suggest that higher accumulation of ions in fiber cells, reduced osmotic pressure and low expression of aquaporins, may contribute to the cessation of fiber elongation in Li 1 and Li 2 short-fiber mutants. The research presented here provides new insights into osmoregulation of short fiber mutants and the role of aquaporins in cotton fiber elongation.
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