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Article|19 Feb 2022|OPEN
Rootstock–scion exchanging mRNAs participate in the pathways of amino acid and fatty acid metabolism in cucumber under early chilling stress
Wenqian Liu1 , Qing Wang1 , Ruoyan Zhang1 ,† , Mengshuang Liu1 ,† , Cuicui Wang1 ,† , Zixi Liu1 , Chenggang Xiang1,2 , Xiaohong Lu1 , Xiaojing Zhang1 , Xiaojun Li1 , Tao Wang1 and Lihong Gao1 , , Wenna Zhang,1 ,
1Beijing Key Laboratory of Growth and Developmental Regulation for Protected Vegetable Crops, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
2College of Life Science and Technology, HongHe University, Mengzi, Yunnan 661100, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:,
and Ruoyan Zhang,Mengshuang Liu,Cuicui Wang contributed equally to the study.

Horticulture Research 9,
Article number: uhac031 (2022)
Views: 30

Received: 13 Sep 2021
Accepted: 30 Dec 2021
Published online: 19 Feb 2022


Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) often experiences chilling stress that limits its growth and productivity. Grafting is widely used to improve abiotic stress resistance by exploiting a vigorous root system, suggesting there exists systemic signals communication between distant organs. mRNAs are reported to be evolving fortification strategies involving long-distance signaling when plants suffer from chilling stress. However, the potential function of mobile mRNAs in alleviating chilling stress in grafted cucumber is still unknown. Here, the physiological changes, mobile mRNA profiles, and transcriptomic and metabolomic changes in above- and underground tissues of all graft combinations of cucumber and pumpkin responding to chilling stress were established and analyzed comprehensively. The co-relationship between the cluster of chilling-induced pumpkin mobile mRNAs with differentially expressed genes and differentially intensive metabolites revealed that four key chilling-induced pumpkin mobile mRNAs were highly related to glycine, serine, and threonine synthesis and fatty acid β-oxidative degradation metabolism in cucumber tissues of heterografts. The verification of mobile mRNAs, potential transport of metabolites, and exogenous application of key metabolites of the glycerophospholipid metabolism pathway in cucumber seedlings confirmed the role of mobile mRNAs in regulating chilling responses in grafted cucumber. Our results build a link between the long-distance mRNAs of chilling-tolerant pumpkin and the fatty acid β-oxidative degradation metabolism of chilling-sensitive cucumber. They also help to uncover the mechanism of signaling interaction between scion and stock as a means of achieving chilling tolerance in grafted cucumber.