We studied the temporal sequence of changes in the photosynthetic CO2/H2O gas exchange intensity, as well as leaf water status, contents of soluble carbohydrates, starch, proline, pigments, and MDA, in maize seedlings (Zea mays L., cv. Luchistaya) under adaptation to increasing water deficit. The duration of drought was 2, 3, 5, and 6 days. Withholding water from maize plants caused gradual increase in the intensity of water deficit: from mild (2 or 3 days) to moderate (5 days) and nearly severe (6 days) water stress. After 6 days, relative leaf water content decreased by 19.8% as compared to the control. On the second day after the onset of drought, slight reduction in the photosynthetic CO2/H2O gas exchange intensity of the treated plants was observed. After 6 days, photosynthesis and transpiration of leaves synchronously reduced almost threefold due to stomatal closure. The progressive soil drought had substantial impact on the carbohydrate metabolism. After 2 days of water deficit, the content of reducing sugars and sucrose increased slightly, whereas after 6 days, it increased ten and four times, respectively. After 2, 3, and 5 days of drought, the starch content declined slightly; however, under severe drought (6 days), it increased by 30% as compared to the control. Simultaneously with the increase in the content of soluble sugars, proline content increased significantly and it was the highest on the sixth day of drought. At all stages of water deficit, the proline content increased more significantly than the content of reducing carbohydrates and sucrose. Under increasing water deficit (5 and 6 days), the content of MDA was found to rise. At the initial drought stage (2 or 3 days) and under severe water deficit (6 days), no significant changes in the pigment content were observed. Thus, at the initial stages of progressive drought, in the leaves of this maize cultivar, a decline in photosynthetic activity proceeded simultaneously with accumulation of reducing sugars, sucrose, and proline. The results obtained showed that, at the first stages of adaptation of maize seedlings to drought, the changes in carbohydrate and proline metabolism have been observed, which have increased upon further plant dehydration.
Russian Journal of Plant Physiology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 24, 2017
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