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Unraveling metabolic mechanisms behind chloroplast desiccation tolerance: Chlorophyllous fern spore as a new promising unicellular model

López-Pozo, M., Gasulla, F., García-Plazaola, J.I., Fernández-Marín, B.
Plant science 2019 v.281 pp. 251-260
Osmunda regalis, chlorophyll, drought tolerance, fatty acids, ferns and fern allies, gametophytes, germination, haploidy, imbibition, lipid composition, models, sporangia, spores, sporophytes, thylakoids, triacylglycerols
Fern spores are unicellular structures produced by the sporophyte generation that give rise to the haploid gametophyte. When released from the sporangium, spores are desiccation tolerant (DT) in the royal fern (Osmunda regalis) and contain fully developed chloroplasts. As a consequence, this type of spores is called chlorophyllous spores (CS). Upon transfer to germination conditions, CS initiate a process of imbibition that suppresses DT in 72 h, before the germination starts. In parallel to such change in DT, thylakoids undergo a profound remodelling in composition and function. Firstly, sustained quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence is relaxed, giving rise to photochemically active CS, while lipid composition shifts from that of a resting structure to a metabolically active cell. Basically trigalactolipids decreased in favour of monogalactolipids, with a parallel desaturation of fatty acids. Storage lipids such as triacylglycerol were quickly depleted. These results highlight the importance of the structure of thylakoids lipid as a key to protect membrane integrity during desiccation, together with the saturation of fatty acids and the constitutive chlorophyll quenching to prevent oxidative damage. The CS used here, in which the same cell shifts from DT to sensitive strategy in 72 h, reveal their potential as unicellular models for future studies on DT.