Can metabolic tightening and expansion of co-expression network play a role in stress response and tolerance?

Affiliation

Division of Biological Sciences, Interdisciplinary Plant Group, Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, 65201, USA. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Plants respond and adapt to changes in their environment by employing a wide variety of genetic, molecular, and biochemical mechanisms. When so doing, they trigger large-scale rearrangements at the metabolic and transcriptional levels. The dynamics and patterns of these rearrangements and how they govern a stress response is not clear. In this opinion, we discuss a plant's response to stress from the perspective of the metabolic gene co-expression network and its rearrangement upon stress. As a case study, we use publicly available expression data of Arabidopsis thaliana plants exposed to heat and drought stress to evaluate and compare the co-expression networks of metabolic genes. The analysis highlights that stress conditions can lead to metabolic tightening and expansion of the co-expression network. We argue that this rearrangement could play a role in a plant's response to stress and thus may be an additional tool to assess and understand stress tolerance/sensitivity. Additional studies are needed to evaluate the metabolic network in response to multiple stresses at various intensities and across different genetic backgrounds (e.g., intra- and inter-species, sensitive and tolerant eco/genotypes).

Keywords

Drought stress,Gene co-expression network,Graph theory properties,Heat stress,

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