Received: 24 Dec 2019 Revised: 26 Mar 2020 Accepted: 30 Mar 2020 Published online: 01 Jun 2020
Polyploid plants often exhibit enhanced stress tolerance relative to their diploid counterparts, but the physiological and molecular mechanisms of this enhanced stress tolerance remain largely unknown. In this study, we showed that autotetraploid trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf.) exhibited enhanced salt tolerance in comparison with diploid progenitors. Global transcriptome profiling of diploid and tetraploid plants with or without salt stress by RNA-seq revealed that the autotetraploids displayed specific enrichment of differentially expressed genes. Interestingly, the leaves and roots of tetraploids exhibited different expression patterns of a variety of upregulated genes. Genes related to plant hormone signal transduction were enriched in tetraploid leaves, whereas those associated with starch and sucrose metabolism and proline biosynthesis were enriched in roots. In addition, genes encoding different antioxidant enzymes were upregulated in the leaves (POD) and roots (APX) of tetraploids under salt stress. Consistently, the tetraploids accumulated higher levels of soluble sugars and proline but less ROS under salt stress compared to the diploids. Moreover, several genes encoding transcription factors were induced specifically or to higher levels in the tetraploids under salt stress. Collectively, this study demonstrates that the activation of various multifaceted defense systems in leaves and roots contributes to the enhanced salt tolerance of autotetraploids.