La Trobe
1205431_Spokevicius,A_2017.pdf (969.85 kB)
Download file

Medium term water deficit elicits distinct transcriptome responses in Eucalyptus species of contrasting environmental origin

Download (969.85 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2022-09-20, 06:21 authored by AV Spokevicius, Josquin TibbitsJosquin Tibbits, P Rigault, MA Nolin, C Müller, A Merchant
Background: Climatic and edaphic conditions over geological timescales have generated enormous diversity of adaptive traits and high speciation within the genus Eucalyptus (L. Hér.). Eucalypt species occur from high rainfall to semi-arid zones and from the tropics to latitudes as high as 43°S. Despite several morphological and metabolomic characterizations, little is known regarding gene expression differences that underpin differences in tolerance to environmental change. Using species of contrasting taxonomy, morphology and physiology (E. globulus and E. cladocalyx), this study combines physiological characterizations with 'second-generation' sequencing to identify key genes involved in eucalypt responses to medium-term water limitation. Results: One hundred twenty Million high-quality HiSeq reads were created from 14 tissue samples in plants that had been successfully subjected to a water deficit treatment or a well-watered control. Alignment to the E. grandis genome saw 23,623 genes of which 468 exhibited differential expression (FDR<0.01) in one or both ecotypes in response to the treatment. Further analysis identified 80 genes that demonstrated a significant species-specific response of which 74 were linked to the 'dry' species E. cladocalyx where 23 of these genes were uncharacterised. The majority (approximately 80%) of these differentially expressed genes, were expressed in stem tissue. Key genes that differentiated species responses were linked to photoprotection/redox balance, phytohormone/signalling, primary photosynthesis/cellular metabolism and secondary metabolism based on plant metabolic pathway network analysis. Conclusion: These results highlight a more definitive response to water deficit by a 'dry' climate eucalypt, particularly in stem tissue, identifying key pathways and associated genes that are responsible for the differences between 'wet' and 'dry' climate eucalypts. This knowledge provides the opportunity to further investigate and understand the mechanisms and genetic variation linked to this important environmental response that will assist with genomic efforts in managing native populations as well as in tree improvement programs under future climate scenarios.


This work was supported by the ARC Future Fellowship program (FT 120100200, Merchant), and a University of Melbourne Early Career Researcher (ECR) grant (Spokevicius).


Publication Date



BMC Genomics





Article Number








Rights Statement

© The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Usage metrics

    Journal Articles


    No categories selected