Comparative transcriptome and translatome analysis in contrasting rice genotypes reveals differential mRNA translation in salt-tolerant Pokkali under salt stress

Yong Fang Li*, Yun Zheng, Lakshminarayana R. Vemireddy, Sanjib Kumar Panda, Smitha Jose, Alok Ranjan, Piyalee Panda, Ganesan Govindan, Junxia Cui, Kangning Wei, Mahmoud W. Yaish, Gnanambal Charmaine Naidoo, Ramanjulu Sunkar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Soil salinity is one of the primary causes of yield decline in rice. Pokkali (Pok) is a highly salt-tolerant landrace, whereas IR29 is a salt-sensitive but widely cultivated genotype. Comparative analysis of these genotypes may offer a better understanding of the salinity tolerance mechanisms in rice. Although most stress-responsive genes are regulated at the transcriptional level, in many cases, changes at the transcriptional level are not always accompanied with the changes in protein abundance, which suggests that the transcriptome needs to be studied in conjunction with the proteome to link the phenotype of stress tolerance or sensitivity. Published reports have largely underscored the importance of transcriptional regulation during salt stress in these genotypes, but the regulation at the translational level has been rarely studied. Using RNA-Seq, we simultaneously analyzed the transcriptome and translatome from control and salt-exposed Pok and IR29 seedlings to unravel molecular insights into gene regulatory mechanisms that differ between these genotypes. Results: Clear differences were evident at both transcriptional and translational levels between the two genotypes even under the control condition. In response to salt stress, 57 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were commonly upregulated at both transcriptional and translational levels in both genotypes; the overall number of up/downregulated DEGs in IR29 was comparable at both transcriptional and translational levels, whereas in Pok, the number of upregulated DEGs was considerably higher at the translational level (544 DEGs) than at the transcriptional level (219 DEGs); in contrast, the number of downregulated DEGs (58) was significantly less at the translational level than at the transcriptional level (397 DEGs). These results imply that Pok stabilizes mRNAs and also efficiently loads mRNAs onto polysomes for translation during salt stress. Conclusion: Under salt stress, Pok is more efficient in maintaining cell wall integrity, detoxifying reactive oxygen species (ROS), translocating molecules and maintaining photosynthesis. The present study confirmed the known salt stress-associated genes and also identified a number of putative new salt-responsive genes. Most importantly, the study revealed that the translational regulation under salinity plays an important role in salt-tolerant Pok, but such regulation was less evident in the salt-sensitive IR29.

Original languageEnglish
Article number935
JournalBMC Genomics
Publication statusPublished - Dec 31 2018


  • Gene regulation
  • Polysomal RNA-Seq
  • RNA-Seq
  • Rice
  • Salt stress
  • Transcription
  • Translation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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