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Copper-Induced Responses in Poplar Clones are Associated with Genotype- and Organ-Specific Changes in Peroxidase Activity and Proline, Polyamine, ABA, and IAA Levels

Kebert, Marko, Rapparini, Francesca, Neri, Luisa, Bertazza, Gianpaolo, Orlović, Saša, Biondi, Stefania
Journal of plant growth regulation 2017 v.36 no.1 pp. 131-147
abscisic acid, chronic exposure, clones, copper, growth retardation, heavy metals, indole acetic acid, leaves, models, peroxidase, photosynthesis, phytoremediation, polyamines, proline, roots, soil, toxicity, trees, woody plants
The involvement of auxin, abscisic acid (ABA), polyamines (PAs), and proline in adaptation to long-term exposure of woody plants to high levels of heavy metals in soil has received scant attention, even in poplar which is a good candidate for phytoremediation of metal-polluted soils and is regarded as a model for basic research in tree species. Three poplar clones (M1, PE19/66, and B229) were comparatively analyzed in a pot experiment for their responses to 300 mg kg⁻¹ Cu(NO₃)₂ at morphological, physiological, and biochemical levels. After 4 months, despite the prevalent accumulation of Cu in roots, where the metal reached potentially toxic concentrations, the three clones showed distinct Cu accumulation and translocation capacities, whereas they did not display evident toxicity symptoms or growth inhibition. Several protective mechanisms, namely decreased photosynthetic functionality, enhanced guaiacol peroxidase (GPOD) activity, and accumulation of proline and PAs, were differentially activated in Cu-treated plants in an organ- and clone-specific manner. Overall, a positive relationship between root Cu concentration with GPOD, proline, and PAs was observed. In M1, higher Cu accumulation in roots and leaves compared with other clones was reflected in stimulation of GPOD activity in both organs and in enhanced proline, and PA levels. In PE19/66, these responses were observed only in roots concomitant with high Cu accumulation. Clone B229 accumulated very low amounts of Cu, therefore, these defense responses were attenuated compared with other clones. Enhanced ABA concentrations in response to Cu were observed in PE19/66 and B229; this was likely responsible for stomatal limitation of photosynthesis in PE19/66, whereas in B229 this effect may have been counteracted by increased IAA. Essentially unchanged leaf auxin levels under Cu stress may account for the lack of shoot growth inhibition observed in all three clones; B229 was the only clone that displayed Cu-induced IAA accumulation in roots. Results are discussed in terms of clone-specific adaptive mechanisms to Cu stress in tolerant poplars.