Differential morpho-physiological and transcriptomic responses to heat stress in two blueberry species

Jodi Callwood, Kalpalatha Melmaiee, Krishnanand P. Kulkarni, Amaranatha R. Vennapusa, Diarra Aicha, Michael Moore, Nicholi Vorsa, Purushothaman Natarajan, Umesh K. Reddy, Sathya Elavarthi

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4 Scopus citations


Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) are highly vulnerable to changing climatic conditions, espe-cially increasing temperatures. To gain insight into mechanisms underpinning the response to heat stress, two blueberry species were subjected to heat stress for 6 and 9 h at 45 °C, and leaf samples were used to study the morpho-physiological and transcriptomic changes. As compared with Vac-cinium corymbosum, Vaccinium darrowii exhibited thermal stress adaptation features such as small leaf size, parallel leaf orientation, waxy leaf coating, increased stomatal surface area, and stomatal closure. RNAseq analysis yielded ~135 million reads and identified 8305 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) during heat stress against the control samples. In V. corymbosum, 2861 and 4565 genes were differentially expressed at 6 and 9 h of heat stress, whereas in V. darrowii, 2516 and 3072 DEGs were differentially expressed at 6 and 9 h, respectively. Among the pathways, the protein processing in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) was the highly enriched pathway in both the species: however, certain metabolic, fatty acid, photosynthesis-related, peroxisomal, and circadian rhythm pathways were enriched differently among the species. KEGG enrichment analysis of the DEGs revealed important biosynthesis and metabolic pathways crucial in response to heat stress. The GO terms enriched in both the species under heat stress were similar, but more DEGs were enriched for GO terms in V. darrowii than the V. corymbosum. Together, these results elucidate the differential response of morpho-physiological and molecular mechanisms used by both the blueberry species under heat stress, andhelp in understanding the complex mechanisms involved in heat stress tolerance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2481
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


  • Blueberry
  • Differentially expressed genes
  • Heat stress
  • Pathway analysis
  • RNAseq


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