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Article|29 Dec 2022|OPEN
Understanding water conservation vs. profligation traits in vegetable legumes through a physio-transcriptomic-functional approach 
Pingping Fang1 , Ting Sun1 , Arun Kumar Pandey1 , Libo Jiang2 , Xinyang Wu1 , Yannan Hu1 , Shiping Cheng3 , Mingxuan Li1 and Pei Xu,1,4 ,
1College of Life Sciences, China Jiliang University, Xueyuan Street No.258, Hangzhou 310018, China
2School of Life Sciences and Medicine, Shandong University of Technology, Xincun West Road No.255, Zibo 255000, China
3Henan Provincial Key Lab of Germplasm Innovation and Utilization of Eco-economic Woody Plant, Pingdingshan University, Weilai Street No.1, Pingdingshan 467000, China
4Key Laboratory of Specialty Agri-Product Quality and Hazard Controlling Technology of Zhejiang, China Jiliang University, Xueyuan Street No.258, Hangzhou 310018, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

Horticulture Research 10,
Article number: uhac287 (2023)
Views: 229

Received: 13 Jul 2022
Accepted: 14 Dec 2022
Published online: 29 Dec 2022


Vegetable soybean and cowpea are related warm-season legumes showing contrasting leaf water use behaviors under similar root drought stresses, whose mechanisms are not well understood. Here we conducted an integrative phenomic-transcriptomic study on the two crops grown in a feedback irrigation system that enabled precise control of soil water contents. Continuous transpiration rate monitoring demonstrated that cowpea used water more conservatively under earlier soil drought stages, but tended to maintain higher transpiration under prolonged drought. Interestingly, we observed a soybean-specific transpiration rate increase accompanied by phase shift under moderate soil drought. Time-series transcriptomic analysis suggested a dehydration avoidance mechanism of cowpea at early soil drought stage, in which the VuHAI3 and VuTIP2;3 genes were suggested to be involved. Multifactorial gene clustering analysis revealed different responsiveness of genes to drought, time of day and their interactions between the two crops, which involved species-dependent regulation of the circadian clock genes. Gene network analysis identified two co-expression modules each associated with transpiration rate in cowpea and soybean, including a pair of negatively correlated modules between species. Module hub genes, including the ABA-degrading gene GmCYP707A4 and the trehalose-phosphatase/synthase gene VuTPS9 were identified. Inter-modular network analysis revealed putative co-players of the hub genes. Transgenic analyses verified the role of VuTPS9 in regulating transpiration rate under osmotic stresses. These findings propose that species-specific transcriptomic reprograming in leaves of the two crops suffering similar soil drought was not only a result of the different drought resistance level, but a cause of it.