Intercropping improves land utilization with more crops grown together; however, shorter crops in intercropping experience stress, being shaded by the taller crops. Systematic changes in phenotype, physiology, yield, and gene regulation under shade stress in peanut are largely unknown, although shade responses have been well analyzed in model plants. We exposed peanut plants to simulated 40% and 80% shade for 15 and 30 days at the seedling stage, flowering stage, and both stages. Shade caused the increased elongation growth of the main stem, internode, and leaf, and elongation was positively associated with auxin levels. Shade stress reduced peanut yield. Further comparative RNA-seq analyses revealed expressional changes in many metabolism pathways and common core sets of expressional regulations in all shade treatments. Expressional downregulation of most genes for light-harvesting and photosynthesis agreed with the observed decreased parameters of photosynthesis processes. Other major regulations included expressional downregulation of most core genes in the sucrose and starch metabolism, and growth-promoting genes in plant hormone signal pathways. Together, the results advance our understanding of physiological and molecular regulation in shade avoidance in peanut, which could guide the breeding designing in the intercropping system.
Chemistry and Pharmacology