Scientists Release Genome Database for Desiccation-Tolerant Plants and Demonstrate Divergent Evolution of Desiccation Tolerance
Desiccation is typically fatal for plant vegetative tissues, but a small number of land plants have evolved vegetative desiccation tolerance (VDT), allowing them to dry without dying through a process called anhydrobiosis. VDT plants allow the equilibration of the water potential of their cells to that of the air and can tolerate tissue water potentials of -100 MPa and lower. Advances in sequencing technologies have enabled the investigation of genomes for desiccation-tolerant plants over the past decade. However, the valuable gene and genomic resources in those plants was to be further investigated and utilized.
Recently, a research group led by ZHANG Daoyuan at the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, established a genome database for desiccation-tolerant plants (“Drying without Dying”, http://desiccation.novogene.com). The genome database contains genomic and transcriptomic resources for a total of 26 VDT-related plant genomes (including 10 mosses). Commonly used bioinformatic analysis tools, such as BLAST, homolog and functional search, GO/KEGG enrichment statistical, expression profile and co-expression module extraction and genome Jbrowser, are incorporated in the database, facilitating future analysis and exploration of genetic information for VDT plants by wet lab researchers.
By conducting tailored PFAM family statistical analyses, the drought-responsive ABA transporter AWPM-19 family was found significantly tandemly duplicated in all bryophytes but rarely so in tracheophytes. Furthermore, presence and absence variation (PAV) analyses of biosynthetic genes of favonoids provided an exemplar footprint illustrating divergence in evolution of genomes and the metabolic characteristics between angiosperms and non-seed plants. Additionally, transcriptomic profiles coupled with functional analyses also support diverged evolution of VDT between bryophytes and angiosperms. Combined, the analyses provided genomic and transcriptomic evidence supporting a possible divergence and lineage-specific evolution of VDT in plants.
The study was recently published in Plant Physiology. This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Third Xinjiang Scientific Expedition Program and the National High-Level Young Talent Programs.
Data sources, bioinformatic integration, database structure and functions of the “Drying without Dying” plant genome database.（Image by GAO Bei）
Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1093/plphys/kiad672
Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences