Transcriptome reprogramming during severe dehydration contributes to physiological and metabolic changes in the resurrection plant Haberlea rhodopensis

Model describing the desiccation tolerance mechanisms in H. rhodopensis
Liu et al. 2018 , BMC Plant Biology, CC BY 4.0

Water shortages are the main limiting factor for global agriculture and ecosystems in general. During the evolution, different plants have developed the ability to survive relatively short periods of weaker or more severe water shortages. The so-called resurrection plants are, however, the only ones capable of surviving complete dehydration of their vegetative organs for a long period of time.

The Balkan endemic species Haberlea rhodopensis is one of only a few resurrection plants found in Europe. Within a bilateral project funded by the Bulgarian Science Fund (NTSC / China / 01/7), scientists from the Abiotic Stress Group, headed by Professor Dimitar Djilianov from the AgroBioInstitute at the Agricultural Academy of Bulgaria and the Laboratory of Plant Resources, headed by Professor Xin Deng from the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences conducted a transcriptome analysis of Haberlea rhodopensis under dry and restoration conditions to study the dynamics of gene expression and its relationship to the available physiological and metabolic data.

The study was recently published in the reputable open access journal BMC Plant Biology 2018 18:351

The results show that during severe dehydration of the resurrection plant (~ 20% relative water content), a reprogramming of the transcriptome occurs, resulting in profound changes in metabolism towards alternative energy delivery pathways, signal transduction of plant hormones and prevention of damage to DNA and proteins. All this secures the physiological and metabolic reactions of the plant to stress and ultimately determines the ability of H. rhodopensis to “resurrect” after complete drying.