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Leaf biochemical adjustments in two Mediterranean resprouter species facing enhanced UV levels and reduced water availability before and after aerial biomass removal

Díaz-Guerra, L., Llorens, L., Julkunen-Tiitto, R., Nogués, I., Font, J., González, J.A., Verdaguer, D.
Plant physiology and biochemistry 2019 v.137 pp. 130-143
Arbutus unedo, Quercus suber, aboveground biomass, antioxidant activity, antioxidants, catalase, enzyme activity, field capacity, flavonols, glutathione, leaves, phenols, seedlings, shoots, ultraviolet radiation
Effects of supplemented UV radiation and diminished water supply on the leaf concentrations of phenols and antioxidants of two Mediterranean resprouter species, Arbutus unedo and Quercus suber, were assessed before and after entire aerial biomass removal. Potted seedlings of both species were grown outdoors for 8 months with enhanced UV-A + UV-B, enhanced UV-A or ambient UV, in combination with two watering conditions (field capacity or watering reduction). After this period, all aerial biomass was removed and new shoots (resprouts) developed for a further 8 months under the two treatments. In general, the investment in leaf phenols was substantially greater in A. unedo than in Q. suber, while Q. suber allocated more resources to non-phenolic antioxidants (ascorbate and glutathione). In response to enhanced UV-B radiation, Q. suber leaves rose their UV-screening capacity mainly via accumulation of kaempferols, accompanied by an increased concentration of rutins, being these effects exacerbated under low-watering conditions. Conversely, A. unedo leaves responded to UV-B radiation reinforcing the antioxidant machinery by increasing the overall amount of flavonols (especially quercetins) in seedlings, and of ascorbate and glutathione, along with catalase activity, in resprouts. Nevertheless, UV effects on the amount/activity of non-phenolic antioxidants of A. unedo resprouts were modulated by water supply. Indeed, the highest concentration of glutathione was found under the combination of enhanced UV-B radiation and reduced watering, suggesting an enlargement of the antioxidant response in A. unedo resprouts. Different biochemical responses to enhanced UV and drier conditions in seedlings and resprouts of these two species might modulate their competitive interactions in the near future.