Differential Responses of Amino Acids and Soluble Proteins to Heat Stress Associated with Genetic Variations in Heat Tolerance for Hard Fescue

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Amino acid and protein metabolism are interrelated and both play important roles in plant adaptation to heat stress. The objective of this study was to identify amino acids and soluble proteins associated with genetic variation in heat tolerance of hard fescue (Festuca trachyphylla). According to a previous screening experiment, the hard fescue cultivars Reliant IV and Predator were selected as heat-tolerant and heat-sensitive cultivars, respectively. Plants of these two hard fescue cultivars were exposed to heat stress at 38/33 °C (day/night) or optimal temperature at 21/18 °C in growth chambers. Each cultivar had four replications under each temperature, and the experimental design was a split-plot design, temperature as the main plots and cultivars as the subplots. Under heat stress, ‘Reliant IV’ exhibited higher turf quality (TQ) and greater membrane stability than ‘Predator’. In response to heat stress, total amino acid content increased, whereas total soluble protein content decreased in both cultivars. The greater accumulation of amino acids in ‘Reliant IV’ was contributed by the greater increase of proteins involved in the glycolysis and the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle that provided carbon skeleton for amino acid synthesis. ‘Reliant IV’ leaves exhibited greater extent of increases in the content of six individual amino acids (histidine, glutamine, proline, threonine, aspartate, and tryptophan) than ‘Predator’ under heat stress. Several soluble proteins were upregulated in response to heat stress, to a greater extent in ‘Reliant IV’ than ‘Predator’, including the proteins involved in photosynthesis, protein folding, redox hemostasis, stress signaling, stress defense, cell organization, and metabolism. These differentially accumulated free amino acids and soluble proteins could be associated with the genetic variation in heat tolerance of hard fescue.

Contributor Notes

We wish to acknowledge the funding support by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Specialty Crops Research Initiative, under award number 2012-51181-19932. We also thank Stephanie Rossi and Cathryn Chapman for critical review of the manuscript.

Corresponding author. E-mail: huang@aesop.rutgers.edu.

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Article Figures

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    (A) Turf quality and (B) electrolyte leakage of ‘Reliant IV’ and ‘Predator’ hard fescue under heat stress vs. control (e.g., ‘Reliant IV’ heat vs. ‘Reliant IV’ control) at 7, 14, 21, and 28 d. Turf quality was rated visually to evaluate overall turfgrass performance on the scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being the worst and 9 being the best. Vertical bars of the figure indicate least significant difference values (P ≤ 0.05) for comparison at a given day of treatment.

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    Remaining total amino acid percentage (total amino acid content after 21 d of heat stress divided by total amino acid content without heat stress) of ‘Reliant IV’ and ‘Predator’ hard fescue. Columns are marked with different letters indicating significant difference between ‘Reliant IV’ and ‘Predator’ according to least significant difference (P ≤ 0.05).

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    Remaining free amino acid percentage (free amino acid content after 21 d of heat stress divided by free amino acid content without heat stress) of ‘Reliant IV’ and ‘Predator’ hard fescue. Columns are marked with different letters indicating significant difference between ‘Reliant IV’ and ‘Predator’ according to least significant difference (P ≤ 0.05). The specific type of amino acid is labeled on the top left corner of each subfigure.

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    Remaining total soluble protein content percentage (total soluble protein content after 21 d of heat stress divided by total soluble protein content without heat stress) of ‘Reliant IV’ and ‘Predator’ hard fescue. Columns are marked with different letters indicating significant difference between ‘Reliant IV’ and ‘Predator’ according to least significant difference (P ≤ 0.05).

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    Functional classification of soluble proteins which are expressed differently after 21 d of heat stress treatment vs. control (no heat stress treatment) for either ‘Reliant IV’ or ‘Predator’ hard fescue.

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    Changes of 18 free amino acids and five soluble proteins in the metabolic pathways after heat stress treatment vs. control (no heat stress treatment) for ‘Reliant IV’ and ‘Predator’ hard fescue. The 18 free amino acids are grouped into five families and labeled in the box, whereas the five soluble proteins are labeled outside the box; TCA = tricarboxylic acid cycle.

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