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Water deficit induces chlorophyll degradation via the 'PAO/phyllobilin' pathway in leaves of homoio- (Craterostigma pumilum) and poikilochlorophyllous (Xerophyta viscosa) resurrection plants.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Christ Bastien, Egert Aurélie, Süssenbacher Iris, Kräutler Bernhard, Bartels Dorothea, Peters Shaun, Hörtensteiner Stefan,
Project Identification of genes that regulate plant tolerance to adverse abiotic stress factors and determine plant ageing
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Plant, cell & environment
Volume (Issue) 37(11)
Page(s) 2521 - 31
Title of proceedings Plant, cell & environment
DOI 10.1111/pce.12308


Angiosperm resurrection plants exhibit poikilo- or homoiochlorophylly as a response to water deficit. Both strategies are generally considered as effective mechanisms to reduce oxidative stress associated with photosynthetic activity under water deficiency. The mechanism of water deficit-induced chlorophyll (Chl) degradation in resurrection plants is unknown but has previously been suggested to occur as a result of non-enzymatic photooxidation. We investigated Chl degradation during dehydration in both poikilochlorophyllous (Xerophyta viscosa) and homoiochlorophyllous (Craterostigma pumilum) species. We demonstrate an increase in the abundance of PHEOPHORBIDE a OXYGENASE (PAO), a key enzyme of Chl breakdown, together with an accumulation of phyllobilins, that is, products of PAO-dependent Chl breakdown, in both species. Phyllobilins and PAO levels diminished again in leaves from rehydrated plants. We conclude that water deficit-induced poikilochlorophylly occurs via the well-characterized PAO/phyllobilin pathway of Chl breakdown and that this mechanism also appears conserved in a resurrection species displaying homoiochlorophylly. The roles of the PAO/phyllobilin pathway during different plant developmental processes that involve Chl breakdown, such as leaf senescence and desiccation, fruit ripening and seed maturation, are discussed.