Characterization of early transcriptional responses to cadmium in the root and leaf of Cd-resistant Salix matsudana Koidz
Bark tissue of Populus × canescens can hyperaccumulate cadmium, but microstructural, transcriptomic, and physiological response mechanisms are poorly understood. Histochemical assays, transmission electron microscopic observations, energy-dispersive x-ray microanalysis, and transcriptomic and physiological analyses have been performed to enhance our understanding of cadmium accumulation and detoxification in P. × canescens. Cadmium was allocated to the phloem of the bark, and subcellular cadmium compartmentalization occurred mainly in vacuoles of phloem cells. Transcripts involved in microstructural alteration, changes in nutrition and primary metabolism, and stimulation of stress responses showed significantly differential expression in the bark of P. × canescens exposed to cadmium. About 48% of the differentially regulated transcripts formed a coregulation network in which 43 hub genes played a central role both in cross talk among distinct biological processes and in coordinating the transcriptomic regulation in the bark of P. × canescens in response to cadmium. The cadmium transcriptome in the bark of P. × canescens was mirrored by physiological readouts. Cadmium accumulation led to decreased total nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium and increased sulfur in the bark. Cadmium inhibited photosynthesis, resulting in decreased carbohydrate levels. Cadmium induced oxidative stress and antioxidants, including free proline, soluble phenolics, ascorbate, and thiol compounds. These results suggest that orchestrated microstructural, transcriptomic, and physiological regulation may sustain cadmium hyperaccumulation in P. × canescens bark and provide new insights into engineering woody plants for phytoremediation.