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Drought stress adaptation modulates plant secondary metabolite production in Salvia dolomitica Codd

Caser, Matteo, Chitarra, Walter, D'Angiolillo, Francesca, Perrone, Irene, Demasi, Sonia, Lovisolo, Claudio, Pistelli, Luisa, Pistelli, Laura, Scariot, Valentina
Industrial crops and products 2019 v.129 pp. 85-96
Salvia miltiorrhiza, Salvia officinalis, abscisic acid, anti-inflammatory activity, antimalarials, biosynthesis, cosmetics, drought, ecophysiology, enzymes, essential oils, genes, leaf water potential, pharmaceutical industry, photosynthesis, sage, secondary metabolites, stomatal conductance, volatile organic compounds, water conservation, water stress
Sage is an important medicinal and aromatic plant. While Salvia officinalis and S. miltiorrhiza have been widely studied, little information regarding S. dolomitica exists, although it has recently attracted attention due to its anti-plasmodial and anti-inflammatory properties. This study investigated the performance and metabolic profile of this species in response to two drought treatments (moderate or severe) relative to well-watered control plants. Changes in growth and ecophysiological traits, as well as in bioactive and volatile compounds and essential oil production were determined. Given that terpenoids are the most representative class of secondary metabolites, the gene expression of key enzymes of terpenoid biosynthesis was also investigated. Moderate drought stimulated a decline in leaf water potential, growth and stomatal conductance, as well as an increase in deyhdrin expression. Serious stress symptoms occurred only in severe drought-stressed plants, where a decline in net photosynthesis and transpiration and an increase in endogenous abscisic acid was observed. Both drought stress conditions led to modulate the expression of some genes involved in biogenic volatile organic compound and essential oil biosynthesis and metabolic profile. In particular, drought induced an increase in sesquiterpene production, a class of terpenoids that is important in the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries. Thus, controlled drought, in addition to water savings during cultivation, can be applied to improve the production of secondary metabolites in S. dolomitica.