Regulation of the photosynthetic electron transport and specific photoprotective mechanisms in Ricinus communis under drought and recovery

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Lima Neto, Milton C. [UNESP]
Silveira, Joaquim Albenísio G.
Cerqueira, João V. A.
Cunha, Juliana R.
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Ricinus communis is one of the major commercial non-edible oilseed crops grown in semiarid and arid environments worldwide and is reported as a drought tolerant species. Surprisingly, little is known about the mechanisms achieving this tolerance, especially in relation to photoprotection. The aim of this study was to analyze the association of the regulation of the photosynthetic electron transport and photoprotective mechanisms with drought tolerance in R. communis. Drought induced decreases in the relative water content, water potential and growth in R. communis exposed to 9 days of drought. After 6 days of rehydration, these parameters were completely recovered, demonstrating a potential of drought tolerance in this species. In addition, drought inhibited photosynthesis by stomatal and metabolic limitations (Vcmax, Jmax, and Rubisco activity), with partial recovery after rehydration. Leaves displayed transient photoinhibition after 6 days of drought, which was completely recovered after 6 days of dehydration. The effective quantum yields and the electron transport rates of PSII and PSI were modulated to face drought avoiding the excess energy produced by decreases in CO2 assimilation. NPQ was increased during drought, and it was maintained higher than control after the recovery treatment. In addition, the estimated cyclic electron flow was induced under drought and decreased after recovery. Photorespiration was also increased under drought and maintained at higher levels after the recovery treatment. Furthermore, antioxidative enzymes activities (SOD, APX, and CAT) were increased under drought to avoid ROS harmful effects. Altogether, we clearly showed that the modulation of photoprotective mechanisms and antioxidant enzymes are crucial to this species under drought. The implication of these strikingly strategies to drought tolerance is discussed in relation to agricultural and natural systems.
Antioxidative metabolism, Cyclic electron flow, Drought, Photochemical activity, Photorespiration, Ricinus communis, ROS
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Acta Physiologiae Plantarum, v. 39, n. 8, 2017.