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The dual strategy of the bromeliad Pitcairnia burchellii Mez to cope with desiccation

Vieira, Evandro Alves, da Cruz Centeno, Danilo, Freschi, Luciano, da Silva, Emerson Alves, Braga, Marcia Regina
Environmental and experimental botany 2017 v.143 pp. 135-148
Pitcairnia, abscisic acid, amino acids, chlorophyll, dehydroascorbic acid, erythritol, gas exchange, leaves, photosynthesis, pigments, rehydration, rhizomes, soil water, starch, transpiration
Pitcairnia burchellii is a bromeliad found in Brazilian rocky outcrops. Given its capacity to cope with soil scarcity and extreme water deficit, this species is thought to behave as a resurrection plant. Herein, we evaluated water relations, gas exchange, the content of pigments, sugar and abscisic acid (ABA), and the metabolic profile of P. burchellii plants during desiccation and recovery after rehydration. During water withholding, the net photosynthesis rate, transpiration, and chlorophyll content decreased rapidly whereas leaf and root soluble carbohydrates increased presumably due to the starch breakdown. These drought-induced physiological changes were associated with a significant increase in leaf ABA content. Marked changes in amino acids, sugar alcohols such as galactinol and erythritol and dehydroascorbic acid levels were observed after desiccation. Our findings indicate that P. burchellii tolerates leaf protoplasmic dehydration and recovers its normal cellular metabolism within a short period after rehydration, as described for other resurrection species. However, plants of P. burchellii subjected to long-term desiccation presented a long delay in foliar tissue dehydration when compared with soil moisture loss, suggesting a cooperative role of the rhizome to cope with extreme water deficit.