The Brassica napus boron deficient inflorescence transcriptome resembles a wounding and infection response

Bart Verwaaijen, Thomas David Alcock, Christoph Spitzer, Zhaojun Liu, Anne Fiebig, Manuela Désirée Bienert, Andrea Bräutigam, Gerd Patrick Bienert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Oilseed rape and other crops of Brassica napus have a high demand for boron (B). Boron deficiencies result in the inhibition of root growth, and eventually premature flower abortion. Understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying flower abortion in B-limiting conditions could provide the basis to enhance B-efficiency and prevent B-deficiency-related yield losses. In this study, we assessed transcriptomic responses to B-deficiency in diverse inflorescence tissues at multiple time points of soil-grown plants that were phenotypically unaffected by B-deficiency until early flowering. Whilst transcript levels of known B transporters were higher in B-deficient samples, these remained remarkably stable as the duration of B-deficiency increased. Meanwhile, GO-term enrichment analysis indicated a growing response resembling that of a pathogen or pest attack, escalating to a huge transcriptome response in shoot heads at mid-flowering. Grouping differentially expressed genes within this tissue into MapMan functional bins indicated enrichment of genes related to wounding, jasmonic acid and WRKY transcription factors. Individual candidate genes for controlling the “flowering-without-seed-setting” phenotype from within MapMan biotic stress bins include those of the metacaspase family, which have been implicated in orchestrating programmed cell death. Overall temporal expression patterns observed here imply a dynamic response to B-deficiency, first increasing expression of B transporters before recruiting various biotic stress-related pathways to coordinate targeted cell death, likely in response to as yet unidentified B-deficiency induced damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). This response indicates new pathways to target and dissect to control B-deficiency-induced flower abortion and to develop more B-efficient crops.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14088
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2023


  • Boron
  • Brassica napus
  • defence
  • flower
  • inflorescence
  • nutrient
  • transcriptome


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