BACKGROUND:Pistachio (Pistacia vera L.) is one of the most important commercial nut crops worldwide. It is a salt-tolerant and long-lived tree, with the largest cultivation area in Iran. Climate change and subsequent increased soil salt content have adversely affected the pistachio yield in recent years. However, the lack of genomic/global transcriptomic sequences on P. vera impedes comprehensive researches at the molecular level. Hence, whole transcriptome sequencing is required to gain insight into functional genes and pathways in response to salt stress. RESULTS:RNA sequencing of a pooled sample representing 24 different tissues of two pistachio cultivars with contrasting salinity tolerance under control and salt treatment by Illumina Hiseq 2000 platform resulted in 368,953,262 clean 100 bp paired-ends reads (90 Gb). Following creating several assemblies and assessing their quality from multiple perspectives, we found that using the annotation-based metrics together with the length-based parameters allows an improved assessment of the transcriptome assembly quality, compared to the solely use of the length-based parameters. The generated assembly by Trinity was adopted for functional annotation and subsequent analyses. In total, 29,119 contigs annotated against all of five public databases, including NR, UniProt, TAIR10, KOG and InterProScan. Among 279 KEGG pathways supported by our assembly, we further examined the pathways involved in the plant hormone biosynthesis and signaling as well as those to be contributed to secondary metabolite biosynthesis due to their importance under salinity stress. In total, 11,337 SSRs were also identified, which the most abundant being dinucleotide repeats. Besides, 13,097 transcripts as candidate stress-responsive genes were identified. Expression of some of these genes experimentally validated through quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) that further confirmed the accuracy of the assembly. From this analysis, the contrasting expression pattern of NCED3 and SOS1 genes were observed between salt-sensitive and salt-tolerant cultivars. CONCLUSION:This study, as the first report on the whole transcriptome survey of P. vera, provides important resources and paves the way for functional and comparative genomic studies on this major tree to discover the salinity tolerance-related markers and stress response mechanisms for breeding of new pistachio cultivars with more salinity tolerance.