A sunflower cDNA microarray containing about 800 clones covering major metabolic and signal transduction pathways was used to study gene expression profiles in leaves and embryos of drought-tolerant and -sensitive genotypes subjected to water-deficit stress under field conditions. Using two-step ANOVA normalization and analysis models, we identified 409 differentially expressed genes among genotypes, water treatment and organs. The majority of the cDNA clones differentially expressed under water stress was found to display opposite gene expression profiles in drought-tolerant genotype compared to drought-sensitive genotype. These dissimilarities suggest that the difference between tolerant and non-tolerant plants seems to be associated with changes in qualitative but not quantitative mRNA expression. Comparing leaves and embryos, 82 cDNA clones showing organ-specific variation in gene expression levels were identified in response to water stress across genotypes. Genes related to amino acids and carbohydrates metabolisms, and signal transduction were induced in embryos and repressed in leaves; suggesting that vegetative and reproductive organs respond differentially to water stress. Adaptive mechanisms controlling water deficit tolerance are proposed and discussed.
- cDNA microarray
- Tolerant and sensitive genotypes
- Water stress