• abiotic stress;
  • cotton;
  • duplicated genes;
  • gene expression;
  • polyploidy


  • Polyploidy has occurred throughout plant evolution and can result in considerable changes to gene expression when it takes place and over evolutionary time. Little is known about the effects of abiotic stress conditions on duplicate gene expression patterns in polyploid plants.
  • We examined the expression patterns of 60 duplicated genes in leaves, roots and cotyledons of allotetraploid Gossypium hirsutum in response to five abiotic stress treatments (heat, cold, drought, high salt and water submersion) using single-strand conformation polymorphism assays, and 20 genes in a synthetic allotetraploid.
  • Over 70% of the genes showed stress-induced changes in the relative expression levels of the duplicates under one or more stress treatments with frequent variability among treatments. Twelve pairs showed opposite changes in expression levels in response to different abiotic stress treatments. Stress-induced expression changes occurred in the synthetic allopolyploid, but there was little correspondence in patterns between the natural and synthetic polyploids.
  • Our results indicate that abiotic stress conditions can have considerable effects on duplicate gene expression in a polyploid, with the effects varying by gene, stress and organ type. Differential expression in response to environmental stresses may be a factor in the preservation of some duplicated genes in polyploids.