Author(s): Gigon A, Matos AR, Laffray D, ZuilyFodil Y, PhamThi AT
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Abstract BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Cell membranes are major targets of environmental stresses. Lipids are important membrane components, and changes in their composition may help to maintain membrane integrity and preserve cell compartmentation under water stress conditions. The aim of this work was to investigate the effects of water stress on membrane lipid composition and other aspects of lipid metabolism in the leaves of the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. METHODS: Arabidopsis thaliana (ecotype Columbia) plants were submitted to progressive drought stress by withholding irrigation. Studies were carried out in plants with hydration levels ranging from slight to very severe water deficit. Enzymatic activities hydrolysing MGDG, DGDG and PC were measured. Expression of several genes essential to lipid metabolism, such as genes coding for enzymes involved in lipid biosynthesis (MGDG synthase, DGDG synthase) and degradation (phospholipases D, lipoxygenase, patatin-like lipolytic-acylhydrolase), was studied. KEY RESULTS: In response to drought, total leaf lipid contents decreased progressively. However, for leaf relative water content as low as 47.5 \%, total fatty acids still represented 61 \% of control contents. Lipid content of extremely dehydrated leaves rapidly increased after rehydration. The time-course of the decrease in leaf lipid contents correlated well with the increase in lipolytic activities of leaf extracts and with the expression of genes involved in lipid degradation. Despite a decrease in total lipid content, lipid class distribution remained relatively stable until the stress became very severe. CONCLUSIONS: Arabidopsis leaf membranes appeared to be very resistant to water deficit, as shown by their capacity to maintain their polar lipid contents and the stability of their lipid composition under severe water loss conditions. Moreover, arabidopsis displayed several characteristics indicative of a so far unknown adaptation capacity to drought-stress at the cellular level, such as an increase in the DGDG : MGDG ratio and fatty acid unsaturation.
This article was published in Ann Bot
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals