Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) is an important medicinal plant for which there is a huge market demand. It has been reported that arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis and drought stress can stimulate the accumulation of the active ingredients, glycyrrhizin and liquiritin, in liquorice plants, but the potential interactions of AM symbiosis and drought stress remain largely unknown. In the present work, we investigated mycorrhizal effects on plant growth and accumulation of glycyrrhizin and liquiritin in liquorice plants under different water regimes. The results indicated that AM plants generally exhibited better growth and physiological status including stomatal conductance, photosynthesis rate, and water use efficiency compared with non-AM plants. AM inoculation up-regulated the expression of an aquaporin gene PIP and decreased root abscisic acid (ABA) concentrations under drought stress. In general, AM plants displayed lower root carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) concentrations, higher phosphorus (P) concentrations, and therefore, lower C:P and N:P ratios but higher C:N ratio than non-AM plants. On the other hand, AM inoculation increased root glycyrrhizin and liquiritin concentrations, and the mycorrhizal effects were more pronounced under moderate drought stress than under well-watered condition or severe drought stress for glycyrrhizin accumulation. The accumulation of glycyrrhizin and liquiritin in AM plants was consistent with the C:N ratio changes in support of the carbon-nutrient balance hypothesis. Moreover, the glycyrrhizin accumulation was positively correlated with the expression of glycyrrhizin biosynthesis genes SQS1, β-AS, CYP88D6, and CYP72A154. By contrast, no significant interaction of AM inoculation with water treatment was observed for liquiritin accumulation, while we similarly observed a positive correlation between liquiritin accumulation and the expression of a liquiritin biosynthesis gene CHS. These results suggested that AM inoculation in combination with proper water management potentially could improve glycyrrhizin and liquiritin accumulation in liquorice roots and may be practiced to promote liquorice cultivation.
Mycorrhiza – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 17, 2018
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