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Hydrogen peroxide promotes programmed cell death and salicylic acid accumulation during the induced production of sesquiterpenes in cultured cell suspensions of Aquilaria sinensis

Liu, Juan, Xu, Yanhong, Zhang, Zheng, Wei, Jianhe
Functional plant biology 2015 v.42 no.4 pp. 337-346
Aquilaria sinensis, apoptosis, caspases, cell suspension culture, cytochrome c, genes, herbivores, hydrogen peroxide, pathogens, plant biology, salicylic acid, sesquiterpenoids, trees
Aquilaria sinensis (Lour.) Gilg produces a highly valuable agarwood characterised by a diverse array of sesquiterpenes and chromone derivatives that can protect wounded trees against potential herbivores and pathogens. A defensive reaction on the part of the plant has been proposed as the key reason for agarwood formation, but the issue of whether programmed cell death (PCD), an important process of plant immune responding, is involved in agarwood formation, still needs to be clarified. In this study, treatment of cultured cell suspensions with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) induced the production of sesquiterpenes due to endogenous accumulation of salicylic acid (SA) and elevations in the expression of sesquiterpene biosynthetic genes. Moreover, PCD was stimulated by H2O2 in cultured cell suspensions of A. sinensis due to the induction of caspase activity, upregulated expression of metacaspases and cytochrome c, and SA accumulation. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that H2O2 stimulates PCD, SA accumulation and sesquiterpene production in cultured cell suspensions of A. sinensis. Furthermore, results from this study provide a valuable insight into investigations of the potential interactions between sesquiterpene synthesis and PCD during agarwood formation.