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Transcriptional and metabolic changes in the desiccation tolerant plant Craterostigma plantagineum during recurrent exposures to dehydration

Liu, Xun, Challabathula, Dinakar, Quan, Wenli, Bartels, Dorothea
Planta 2019 v.249 no.4 pp. 1017-1035
Craterostigma plantagineum, chlorophyll, electrolytes, genes, hydrogen peroxide, malondialdehyde, metabolites, proline, protein content, proteins, rehydration, stress tolerance, sucrose, superoxide dismutase, tissues, transcription (genetics)
MAIN CONCLUSION: Multiple dehydration/rehydration treatments improve the adaptation of Craterostigma plantagineum to desiccation by accumulating stress-inducible transcripts, proteins and metabolites. These molecules serve as stress imprints or memory and can lead to increased stress tolerance. It has been reported that repeated exposure to dehydration may generate stronger reactions during a subsequent dehydration treatment in plants. This stimulated us to address the question whether the desiccation tolerant resurrection plant Craterostigma plantagineum has a stress memory. The expression of four representative stress-related genes gradually increased during four repeated dehydration/rehydration treatments in C. plantagineum. These genes reflect a transcriptional memory and are trainable genes. In contrast, abundance of chlorophyll synthesis/degradation-related transcripts did not change during dehydration and remained at a similar level as in the untreated tissues during the recovery phase. During the four dehydration/rehydration treatments the level of ROS pathway-related transcripts, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, proline, and sucrose increased, whereas H₂O₂ content and electrolyte leakage decreased. Malondialdehyde (MDA) content did not change during the dehydration, which indicates a gain of stress tolerance. At the protein level, increased expression of four representative stress-related proteins showed that the activated stress memory can persist over several days. The phenomenon described here could be a general feature of dehydration stress memory responses in resurrection plants.