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Qi Chai, Fang Jin, Emily Merewitz and Bingru Huang

The objective of this study was to determine physiological traits for drought survival and post-drought recovery upon re-watering in two C3 perennial grass species, kentucky bluegrass [KBG (Poa pratensis)] and perennial ryegrass [PRG (Lolium perenne)]. Plants were maintained well watered or exposed to drought stress by withholding irrigation and were then re-watered in a growth chamber. KBG had significantly higher grass quality and leaf photochemical efficiency, and lower electrolyte leakage than PRG during 20 days of drought. After 7 days of re-watering, drought-damaged leaves were rehydrated to the control level in KBG, but could not fully recover in PRG. KBG produced a greater number of new roots, while PRG had more rapid elongation of new roots after 16 days of re-watering. Superior drought tolerance in KBG was associated with osmotic adjustment, higher cell wall elasticity, and lower relative water content at zero turgor. Osmotic adjustment, cell wall elasticity, and cell membrane stability could play important roles in leaf desiccation tolerance and drought survival in perennial grass species. In addition, post-drought recovery of leaf hydration level and physiological activity could be associated with the accumulation of carbohydrates in leaves and rhizomes during drought stress and new root production after re-watering.

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Yun-Peng Zhong, Zhi Li, Dan-Feng Bai, Xiu-Juan Qi, Jin-Yong Chen, Cui-Guo Wei, Miao-Miao Lin and Jin-Bao Fang

To select resistant germplasm resources and understand the growth and physiological responses of kiwifruit (Actinidia sp.) to drought stress, five species, Actinidia macrosperma (Acma), Actinidia longicarpa (Aclo), Actinidia deliciosa (Acde), Actinidia hemsleyana (Ache), and Actinidia valvata (Acva), were assessed under tissue culture conditions. Rootless seedlings of five species were cultured in a medium containing polyethylene glycol [PEG (formula weight 8000)] to induce drought stress (0%, 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20%). After a 30-day culture, three growth indices [fresh weight (FW), plant height (PLH), and leaf number (LN)] and six physiological indices were determined, and the drought damage index (DDI) was determined. The DDIs of five species increased, and three growth indices decreased with increasing PEG concentrations. The following changes were observed under 20% PEG treatment conditions: superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities increased significantly in Acma, Aclo, and Ache specimens; peroxidase (POX) activities remained stable in Acde, Ache, and Acva specimens; and catalase (CAT) activities increased sharply in Acma and Acva. Furthermore, the results indicated that soluble sugar (SS) content increased slightly in Acma, Aclo, Acde, and Ache but it decreased in Acva specimens. Proline (PRO) content increased significantly in Acma and Acva, and malondialdehyde (MDA) contents tended to increase under drought stress in all five species. Principal component analysis (PCA) results indicated that the order of drought tolerance in the five genotypes examined in this study under tissue culture conditions was as follows: Acma > Acva > Acde > Aclo > Ache. Therefore, we concluded that Acma and Acva are more resilient germplasm resources that represent promising kiwifruit-breeding materials. Furthermore, tolerance to drought stress in these species should be further investigated under orchard conditions.

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Jiao Chen, De-bao Yuan, Chao-zheng Wang, Yi-xing Li, Fen-fang Li, Ke-qian Hong and Wang-jin Lu

Many reports indicate that an abundance of really interesting new gene (RING) play key roles in regulating defense responses against abiotic and biotic stresses in plants. In this study, the cloning and functional characterization of a RING gene, MaRING2, in banana (Musa acuminata) fruit are reported. MaRING2 belongs to the NEP1-interacting protein (NIP) RING-H2 finger protein family. Gene expression profiles revealed that MaRING2 was cold responsive and induced by abscisic acid (ABA) treatment during cold storage. In this study, the MaRING2 under control of the Cauliflower mosaic virus 35S (CaMV 35S) promoter was transformed to tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) using agrobacterium (Agrobacterium tumefaciens)-mediated transformation. The resultant MaRING2-overexpressing transgenic plants (35S:MaRING2) exhibited significantly increased tolerance to low temperatures and were hypersensitive to exogenous ABA in terms of germination and early seedling growth. In addition, overexpression of MaRING2 enhanced the expression of stress-responsive genes under normal (before cold stress) or cold conditions. These results demonstrate the biological role of MaRING2 in conferring cold tolerance. Taken together, these results suggest that MaRING2, a C3H2C3-type RING protein, is a positive regulator of the ABA-dependent stress response.

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Ren-jun Feng, Li-li Zhang, Jing-yi Wang, Jin-mei Luo, Ming Peng, Jun-feng Qi, Yin-don Zhang and Li-fang Lu

Cold stress is one of the most important environmental factors affecting crop growth and agricultural production. Induced changes of gene expression and metabolism are critical for plants responding and acclimating to cold stress. Banana (Musa sp.) is one of the most important food crops in the tropical and subtropical countries of the world. Banana, which originated from tropical regions, is sensitive to cold, which can result in serious losses in commercial banana production. To investigate the response of the banana to cold stress conditions, changes in protein expression were analyzed using a comparative proteomics approach. ‘Brazil’ banana (Musa acuminata AAA group) is a common banana cultivar in southern China. ‘Brazil’ banana plantlets were exposed to 5 °C for 24 hours and then total crude protein was extracted from treatment and control leaves by phenol extraction, separated with two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, and subsequently identified by mass spectrometry (MS). Out of the more than 400 protein spots reproducibly detected, only 41 protein spots exhibited a change in intensity by at least 2-fold, with 26 proteins increasing and 15 proteins decreasing expression. Of these, 28 differentially expressed proteins were identified by MS. The identified proteins, including well-known and novel cold-responsive proteins, are involved in several cellular processes, including antioxidation and antipathogen, photosynthesis, chaperones, protein synthesis, signal transduction, energy metabolism, and other cellular functions. Proteins related to antioxidation, pathogen resistance, molecular chaperones, and energy metabolism were up-regulated, and proteins related to ethylene synthesis, protein synthesis, and epigenetic modification were down-regulated in response to cold temperature treatment. The banana plantlets incubated at cold temperatures demonstrated major changes in increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging, defense against diseases, and energy supply. Increased antioxidation capability in banana was also discovered in plantain, which has greater cold tolerance than banana in response to cold stress conditions. Therefore, we hypothesized that an increased antioxidation ability could be a common characteristic of banana and plantain in response to cold stress conditions. These findings may provide a better understanding of the physiological processes of banana in response to cold stress conditions.