Background: Due to drought stress, the growth, distribution, and production of mungbean is severely restricted. Previous study combining physiological and transcriptomic data indicated different genotypes of mungbean exhibited variable responses when exposed to drought stress. Aside from the genetic variation, the modifications of environmentally induced epigenetics alterations on mungbean drought-stress responses were still elusive.
Results: In this study, firstly, we compared the drought tolerance capacity at seedling stages by detecting physiological parameters in two contrasting genotypes wild mungbean 61 and cultivar 70 in response to drought stress. We found that wild mungbean 61 showed lower level of MDA and higher levels of SOD, POD, and CAT, suggesting wild mungbean 61 exhibited stronger drought resistances. Transcriptomic analysis indicated totally 2659 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were detected when 61 compared with 70 (C61 vs C70), and the number increased to 3121 in the comparison of drought-treated 70 compared with drought-treated 61 (D70 vs D61). In addition, when drought-treated 61 and 70 were compared with their controls, the DEGs were 1117 and 185 respectively, with more down-regulated DEGs than up-regulated in D61 vs C61, which was opposite in D70 vs C70. Interestingly, corresponding to this, after drought stress, more hypermethylated differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in 61 were detected and more hypomethylated DMRs in 70 were detected. Further analysis suggested that the main variations between 61 and 70 existed in CHH methylation in promoter. Moreover, the preference of methylation status alterations in D60 vs C60 and D70 vs C70 also fell in CHH sequence context. Further analysis of the correlation between DMRs and DEGs indicated in both D61 vs C61 and D70 vs C70, the DMRs in gene body was significantly negatively correlated with DEGs.
Conclusion: The physiological parameters in this research suggested that wild mungbean 61 was more resistant to drought stress, with more hypermethylated DMRs and less hypomethylated DMRs after drought stress, corresponding to more down-regulated DEGs than up-regulated DEGs. Among the three DNA methylation contexts CG, CHG, and CHH, asymmetric CHH contexts were more dynamic and prone to be altered by drought stress and genotypic variations.