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Stem Xylem Characterization for Vitis Drought Tolerance

Rustioni, Laura, Ciacciulli, Angelo, Grossi, Daniele, Brancadoro, Lucio, Failla, Osvaldo
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2016 v.64 no.26 pp. 5317-5323
Sudan dyes, Vitis, absorption, color, cultivars, drought tolerance, hydrophobicity, least squares, lianas, microscopy, neural networks, phenotype, reflectance spectroscopy, rootstocks, stems, stomatal conductance, suberin, water stress, water use efficiency, waxes, wood, xylem
Together with stomatal conductance and root conductivity, the stem water reserve and transport systems could be regulatory mechanisms able to participate in the regulation of the plant water status. Lianas, such as Vitis spp., minimize the trunk support role, and stems have evolved to improve their ability in water transport. In this work, stems of 10 different Vitis species were studied in relation to their expected drought tolerance using reflectance spectroscopy. Spectra were measured before (T0) and after coloration with Sudan IV dye. The T0 spectral signature showed characteristic species features. The partial least squares (PLS) regression and the self-organizing map (SOM) neural network analysis were able to predict the expected drought tolerance score; thus, reflectance spectroscopy was demonstrated to be a useful technique for drought tolerance phenotyping. These methods could be applied for the preliminary selection of new rootstocks/cultivars. Wood composition variation appeared to be correlated with the water stress susceptibility. To clarify this relationship, the attention was focused on the wood hydrophobicity. Sudan IV is a microscopy dye traditionally used to underline suberin, waxes, and, in general, hydrophobic substances. Differences between rough and colored spectra evidenced the absorption band of Sudan IV with a maximum at 539 nm. The coloration intensity was used to develop a hydrophobicity index. The obtained values were correlated with the expected drought tolerance score. Therefore, hydrophobic compounds seem to play an important role in water use efficiency, and an hydrophobic barrier in the xylem tissue appears to be a protective mechanism against water stress.