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The Plant Genome Abstract - Original Research

Density Stress has Minimal Impacts on the Barley or Maize Seedling Transcriptome


  1. Summer St. Pierre,
  2. Nathan M. Springer and
  3. Gary J. Muehlbauer 
  1. S. St. Pierre and G.J. Muehlbauer, Dep. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108. N.M. Springer, Dep. of Plant Biology, Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108. Received 11 Aug. 2010.


High planting density affects the morphology and productivity of many crop species. Our objectives were to examine the phenotypic and transcriptomic changes that occur during plant density stress in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and maize (Zea mays L.) seedlings. In maize and barley seedlings, density stress impacted several morphological traits. Gene expression profiles were examined in four barley and five maize genotypes grown at low and high plant densities. Only 221 barley and 35 maize genes exhibited differential expression in response to plant density stress. The majority of the gene expression changes were observed in a subset of the genotypes and reflected minor changes in the level of expression, indicating that the plant density stress imposed in this study did not result in major changes in gene expression. Also, little overlap was observed within barley or maize genotypes in gene expression during density stress, indicating that genotypic differences play a major role in the response to density stress. While it is clear that gene expression differences are involved in morphological changes induced by high plant densities, it is likely that many of these gene expression differences are subtle and restricted to particular tissues and developmental time.

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