Cold Response Biomarker Identification in Strawberry

Zachary M Deitch, Purdue University


Strawberry (Fragaria spp.) is an agricultural crop grown often in temperate regions that has high variability in its susceptibility to freezing injury. To breed cultivars for frost and freezing tolerance, identification of molecular markers associated with low temperature tolerance is advantageous. In this work, I investigated a high-throughput method for protein assays and western blotting. Success in streamlining these processes saves an immense amount of time and allows for the processing of more samples and obtaining larger datasets. Thirty-three octoploid varieties were tested for their accumulation of five different potential biomarkers in response to cold exposure. It was found that total dehydrin content, has the strongest potential to be reliable biomarkers for breeding programs. Previous work identified seven putative dehydrins in Fragaria, where two were purified and positively identified by mass spectrometry and determined to be COR47-like (SKn) and XERO2-like (YnSKn). This work demonstrated that cold tolerance positively correlated with dehydrin protein expression levels. To understand the cold-regulated expression of dehydrins as a function of cold exposure time, the levels of transcripts and corresponding proteins were examined in strongly cold tolerant (Alta) and lesser cold tolerant (FDP817, NCGR1363) Fragaria diploid genotypes. The COR47-like (SKn) and XERO2-like (YnSKn) dehydrins both had higher transcript accumulation and protein levels in the more cold tolerant line in comparison to the two less cold tolerant lines. Lack of correlation between transcript and resulting COR47 protein level in Alta were observed at several different timepoints, where protein accumulation preceded an increase in RNA. This trend was not seen with XERO2. This initiated an investigation to discover at what level COR47 is being regulated. First, the COR47 coding region was sequenced for all the genotypes to confirm against the predicted sequence. In addition, since two isoforms of the COR47 gene exist, and could possibly explain the discrepancy in transcript counts, primers were designed for both isoforms and RT-qPCR was performed to examine the transcripts of COR47 more closely. Through examination of the non-congruence of COR47 transcripts and protein, it was found that transcriptional mechanisms of regulation are not involved, and that post transcriptional and post-RNA splicing mechanisms are likely to be responsible for the observed trend in Alta. Conclusions from this work demonstrate that dehydrin transcripts and dehydrin protein accumulations are strong potential biomarkers for identifying low temperature tolerance in diploid strawberry.




Randall, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Biology|Molecular biology|Cellular biology

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