Transcriptomic responses of black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) Britton, Sterns & Poggenb.) to elevated CO2 and drought

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University of New Brunswick


Elevated atmospheric CO₂ is the primary cause of global climate change that affects terrestrial ecosystems, including boreal forests. Increases in the frequency and severity of drought in forest zones are a representative effect of such predicted global climate change. Black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) is an ecologically and economically important conifer in Canada. Black spruce's ability to acclimate to global climate change will likely be reflected in the differential expression of genes, ultimately leading to acclimating responses to the environmental change. However, few studies have attempted to identify molecular responses of black spruce to simulated global climate change conditions. Restricted availability of whole genome or transcriptome sequence resources limits such research with black spruce. The current study aims to determine how black spruce responds to elevated CO2, drought, and their combinations at a transcriptomic level. This study takes advantage of a RNA-sequencing approach to develop whole transcriptome sequence datasets with which quantitative differences in gene expression of black spruce plants grown between ambient and treated conditions are profiled. Successful application of the whole transcriptome sequencing approach for black spruce will contribute to further genomic and transcriptomic studies of spruce species. Identified or inferred associations between differential gene expression and changes in phenotypic traits of black spruce in response to the experimentally created global climate change conditions will help to understand acclimating processes and to anticipate their consequences to a projected CO₂-enriched future climate under ambient or drought condition.