An RNA sequencing transcriptome analysis of the high-temperature stressed tall fescue reveals novel insights into plant thermotolerance

Tao Hu, Xiaoyan Sun, Xunzhong Zhang, Eviatar Nevo, Jinmin Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) is major cool-season forage and turf grass species worldwide, but high-temperature is a major environmental stress that dramatically threaten forage production and turf management of tall fescue. However, very little is known about the whole-genome molecular mechanisms contributing to thermotolerance. The objectives of this study were to analyzed genome-wide gene expression profiles in the leaves of two tall fescue genotypes, heat tolerant 'PI578718' and heat sensitive 'PI234881' using high-throughput RNA sequencing. Results: A total of 262 million high-quality paired-end reads were generated and assembled into 31,803 unigenes with an average length of 1,840 bp. Of these, 12,974 unigenes showed different expression patterns in response to heat stress and were categorized into 49 Gene Ontology functional subcategories. In addition, the variance of enrichment degree in each functional subcategory between PI578718 and PI234881 increased with increasing treatment time. Cell division and cell cycle genes showed a massive increase in transcript abundance in heat-stressed plants and more activated genes were detected in PI 578718 by Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathways analysis. Low molecular weight heat shock protein (LMW-HSP, HSP20) showed activated in two stressed genotypes and high molecular weight HSP (HMW-HSP, HSP90) just in PI578718. Assimilation such as photosynthesis, carbon fixation, CH4, N, S metabolism decreased along with increased dissimilation such as oxidative phosphorylation. Conclusions: The assembled transcriptome of tall fescue could serve as a global description of expressed genes and provide more molecular resources for future functional characterization analysis of genomics in cool-season turfgrass in response to high-temperature. Increased cell division, LMW/HMW-HSP, dissimilation and antioxidant transcript amounts in tall fescue were correlated with successful resistance to high temperature stress.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1147
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 19 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Wang Lu (Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Science) for helpful suggestions on bioinformatics analysis of RNA-Seq data. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant #: 31071822; 31272194) and the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (i.e., “863” plan, Grant #: 2011AA100209-2). We are also grateful to Shanghai Personal Biotechnology Co., Ltd. for RNA-Seq technical support.


  • Cell cycle
  • Energy metabolism
  • High-temperature stress
  • RNA sequencing
  • Tall fescue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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