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Increasing Ascorbic Acid Content and Salinity Tolerance of Cherry Tomato Plants by Suppressed Expression of the Ascorbate Oxidase Gene

F. Abdelgawad, Karima, M. El-Mogy, Mohamed, I. A. Mohamed, Mohamed, Garchery, Cecile, G. Stevens, Rebecca
Agronomy 2019 v.9 no.2
RNA interference, antioxidants, ascorbate oxidase, ascorbic acid, cherry tomatoes, enzyme activity, firmness, flowers, fruit quality, fruits, gene overexpression, genes, irrigation, leaves, lycopene, plant growth, plant height, salinity, salt stress, salt tolerance, sodium chloride, total soluble solids, West Virginia
Ascorbic acid is considered to be one of the most important antioxidants in plants and plays a vital role in the adaptation of plants to unfavorable conditions. In the present study, an ascorbate oxidase gene (Solyc04g054690) was over-expressed in cherry tomato cv. West Virginia 106 lines and compared with previously studied RNAi silenced ascorbate oxidase lines. Two lines with lower ascorbate oxidase activity (AO−15 and AO−42), two lines with elevated activity (AO+14 and AO+16), and the non-transgenic line (WVa106) were grown and irrigated with 75 mM and 150 mM NaCl in 2015 and 2016. Growth, yield, and chemical composition of the lines under salinity stress were evaluated. Lines with lower ascorbate oxidase activity resulted in higher plant growth parameters (plant height, leaf number, flower, and cluster number in 2015 and stem diameter and flower number in 2016), and improved fruit quality (firmness in 2016 and soluble solid content in 2015) and total yield per plant under salinity stress over both years. In addition, we show that ascorbic acid, lycopene, and carotene contents of fruits were higher in lines with lower ascorbate oxidase activity compared to lines with elevated activity and the non-transgenic line under conditions of moderate and high salinity in both years.