This paper investigates differences in gene expression among the two Thlaspi caerulescens ecotypes La Calamine (LC) and Lellingen (LE) that have been shown to differ in metal tolerance and metal uptake. LC originates from a metalliferous soil and tolerates higher metal concentrations than LE which originates from a non-metalliferous soil. The two ecotypes were treated with different levels of zinc in solution culture, and differences in gene expression were assessed through application of a cDNA microarray consisting of 1,700 root and 2,700 shoot cDNAs. Hybridisation of root and shoot cDNA from the two ecotypes revealed a total of 257 differentially expressed genes. The regulation of selected genes was verified by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Comparison of the expression profiles of the two ecotypes suggests that LC has a higher capacity to cope with reactive oxygen species and to avoid the formation of peroxynitrite. Furthermore, increased transcripts for the genes encoding for water channel proteins could explain the higher Zn tolerance of LC compared to LE. The higher Zn tolerance of LC was reflected by a lower expression of the genes involved in disease and defence mechanisms. The results of this study provide a valuable set of data that may help to improve our understanding of the mechanisms employed by plants to tolerate toxic concentrations of metal in the soil.
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