- Han M. (2019) Transcriptome Analysis Reveals Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) Genes That Are Differentially Expressed in Cadmium Stress Tolerance. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 20(6), 1479.
High concentrations of heavy metals in the soil should be removed for environmental safety. Cadmium (Cd) is a heavy metal that pollutes the soil when its concentration exceeds 3.4 mg/kg. Although the potential use of cotton to remediate heavy Cd-polluted soils is known, little is understood about the molecular mechanisms of Cd tolerance. In this study, transcriptome analysis was used to identify Cd tolerance genes and their potential mechanisms in cotton. We exposed cotton plants to excess Cd and identified 4627 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in the root, 3022 DEGs in the stem and 3854 DEGs in the leaves through RNA-Seq analysis. Among these genes were heavy metal transporter coding genes (ABC, CDF, HMA, etc.), annexin genes and heat shock genes (HSP), amongst others. Gene ontology (GO) analysis showed that the DEGs were mainly involved in the oxidation–reduction process and metal ion binding. The DEGs were mainly enriched in two pathways, the influenza A and pyruvate pathway. GhHMAD5, a protein containing a heavy-metal binding domain, was identified in the pathway to transport or to detoxify heavy metal ions. We constructed a GhHMAD5 overexpression system in Arabidopsis thaliana that showed longer roots compared to control plants. GhHMAD5-silenced cotton plants showed more sensitivity to Cd stress. The results indicate that GhHMAD5 is involved in Cd tolerance, which gives a preliminary understanding of the Cd tolerance mechanism in upland cotton. Overall, this study provides valuable information for the use of cotton to remediate soils polluted with Cd and potentially other heavy metals.