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Physiologia Plantarum

Hagar Fox, 
Shifra Ben-Dor, 
Adi Doron-Faigenboim, 
Moshe Goldsmith, 
Tamir Klein, 

In trees, nonstructural carbohydrates (NSCs) serve as long-term carbon storage and long-distance carbon transport from source to sink. NSC management in response to drought stress is key to our understanding of drought acclimation. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes remain unclear. By combining a transcriptomic approach with NSC quantification in the leaves, stems, and roots of Populus alba under drought stress, we analyzed genes from 29 gene families related to NSC signaling, translocation, and metabolism. We found starch depletion across organs and accumulation of soluble sugars (SS) in the leaves. Activation of the trehalose-6-phosphate/SNF1-related protein kinase (SnRK1) signaling pathway across organs via the suppression of class I TREHALOSE-PHOSPHATE SYNTHASE (TPS) and the expression of class II TPS genes suggested an active response to drought. The expression of SnRK1α and β subunits, and SUCROSE SYNTHASE6 supported SS accumulation in leaves. The upregulation of active transporters and the downregulation of most passive transporters implied a shift toward active sugar transport and enhanced regulation over partitioning. SS accumulation in vacuoles supports osmoregulation in leaves. The increased expression of sucrose synthesis genes and reduced expression of sucrose degradation genes in the roots did not coincide with sucrose levels, implying local sucrose production for energy. Moreover, the downregulation of invertases in the roots suggests limited sucrose allocation from the aboveground organs. This study provides an expression atlas of NSC-related genes that respond to drought in poplar trees, and can be tested in tree improvement programs for adaptation to drought conditions.

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Carbohydrate dynamics in Populus trees under drought: An expression atlas of genes related to sensing, translocation, and metabolism across organs

Hagar Fox, 
Shifra Ben-Dor, 
Adi Doron-Faigenboim, 
Moshe Goldsmith, 
Tamir Klein, 

Carbohydrate dynamics in Populus trees under drought: An expression atlas of genes related to sensing, translocation, and metabolism across organs

In trees, nonstructural carbohydrates (NSCs) serve as long-term carbon storage and long-distance carbon transport from source to sink. NSC management in response to drought stress is key to our understanding of drought acclimation. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes remain unclear. By combining a transcriptomic approach with NSC quantification in the leaves, stems, and roots of Populus alba under drought stress, we analyzed genes from 29 gene families related to NSC signaling, translocation, and metabolism. We found starch depletion across organs and accumulation of soluble sugars (SS) in the leaves. Activation of the trehalose-6-phosphate/SNF1-related protein kinase (SnRK1) signaling pathway across organs via the suppression of class I TREHALOSE-PHOSPHATE SYNTHASE (TPS) and the expression of class II TPS genes suggested an active response to drought. The expression of SnRK1α and β subunits, and SUCROSE SYNTHASE6 supported SS accumulation in leaves. The upregulation of active transporters and the downregulation of most passive transporters implied a shift toward active sugar transport and enhanced regulation over partitioning. SS accumulation in vacuoles supports osmoregulation in leaves. The increased expression of sucrose synthesis genes and reduced expression of sucrose degradation genes in the roots did not coincide with sucrose levels, implying local sucrose production for energy. Moreover, the downregulation of invertases in the roots suggests limited sucrose allocation from the aboveground organs. This study provides an expression atlas of NSC-related genes that respond to drought in poplar trees, and can be tested in tree improvement programs for adaptation to drought conditions.

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