Wind, rain, herbivores, obstacles, neighbouring plants, etc. provide important mechanical cues to steer plant growth and survival. Mechanostimulation to stimulate yield and stress resistance of crops is of significant research interest, yet a molecular understanding of transcriptional responses to touch is largely absent in cereals. To address this, we performed whole-genome transcriptomics following mechanostimulation of wheat, barley, and the recent genome-sequenced oat. The largest transcriptome changes occurred ±25 min after touching, with most of the genes being upregulated. While most genes returned to basal expression level by 1–2 h in oat, many genes retained high expression even 4 h post-treatment in barley and wheat. Functional categories such as transcription factors, kinases, phytohormones, and Ca2+ regulation were affected. In addition, cell wall-related genes involved in (hemi)cellulose, lignin, suberin, and callose biosynthesis were touch-responsive, providing molecular insight into mechanically induced changes in cell wall composition. Furthermore, several cereal-specific transcriptomic footprints were identified that were not observed in Arabidopsis. In oat and barley, we found evidence for systemic spreading of touch-induced signalling. Finally, we provide evidence that both the jasmonic acid-dependent and the jasmonic acid-independent pathways underlie touch-signalling in cereals, providing a detailed framework and marker genes for further study of (a)biotic stress responses in cereals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-302
JournalPlant Journal
Issue number1
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Agricultural Science

Free keywords

  • Arabidopsis
  • barley
  • cereals
  • mechanical stimulation
  • oat
  • touch response
  • wheat


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