Highly-lignified culms of bamboo show distinctive anatomical and mechanical properties compared with the culms of other grass species. A cell culture system for Phyllostachys nigra has enabled investigating the alterations in cellular states associated with secondary cell wall formation during its proliferation and lignification in woody bamboos. To reveal transcriptional changes related to lignification in bamboo, we analyzed transcriptome in P. nigra cells treated with the synthetic auxin 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and the synthetic cytokinin benzylaminopurine (BA) by RNA-seq analysis. We found that some genes putatively involved in cell wall biogenesis and cell division were up-regulated in response to the 2,4-D treatment, and the induction of lignification by the BA treatment was correlated with up-regulation of genes involved in the shikimate pathway. We also found that genes encoding MYB transcription factors (TFs) show correlated expression patterns with those encoding cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase (CAD), suggesting that MYB TFs presumably regulate secondary cell wall formation in the bamboo cells. These findings suggest that cytokinin signaling may regulate lignification in P. nigra cells through coordinated transcriptional regulation and metabolic alterations. Our results have also produced a useful resource for better understanding of secondary cell wall formation in bamboo plants.
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