Half or whole root systems of micropropagated `Gala' apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) plants were subjected to drought stress by regulating the osmotic potential of the nutrient solution using polyethylene glycol (20% w/v) to investigate the effect of root drying on NO3- content and metabolism in roots and leaves and on leaf photosynthesis. No significant difference in predawn leaf water potential was found between half root stress (HRS) and control (CK), while predawn leaf water potential from both was significantly higher than for the whole root stress (WRS) treatment. However, diurnal leaf water potential of HRS was lower than CK and higher than WRS during most of the daytime. Neither HRS nor WRS influenced foliar NO3- concentration, but both significantly reduced NO3- concentration in drought-stressed roots as early as 4 hours after stress treatment started. This reduced NO3- concentration was maintained in HRS and WRS roots to the end of the experiment. However, there were no significant differences in NO3- concerntation between CK roots and unstressed roots of HRS. Similar to the effect on root NO3- concentration, both HRS and WRS reduced nitrate reductase activity in drought-stressed roots. Moreover, leaf net photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and transpiration rate of HRS plants were reduced significantly throughout the experiment when compared with CK plants, but the values were higher than those of WRS plants in the first 7 days of stress treatment though not at later times. Net photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and transpiration rate were correlated to root NO3- concentration. This correlation may simply reflect the fact that water stress affected both NO3- concentration in roots and leaf gas exchange in the same direction.
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has been proven to be a multifunctional signaling molecule in plants. In this study, we attempted to explore the effects of H2S on the climacteric fruit tomato during postharvest storage. H2S fumigation for 1 d was found to delay the peel color transition from green to red and decreased fruit firmness induced by ethylene. Further investigation showed that H2S fumigation downregulated the activities and gene expressions of cell wall–degrading enzymes pectin lyase (PL), polygalacturonase (PG), and cellulase. Furthermore, H2S fumigation downregulated the expression of ethylene biosynthesis genes SlACS2 and SlACS3. Ethylene treatment for 1 d was found to induce the expression of SlACO1, SlACO3, and SlACO4 genes, whereas the increase was significantly inhibited by H2S combined with ethylene. Furthermore, H2S decreased the transcript accumulation of ethylene receptor genes SlETR5 and SlETR6 and ethylene transcription factors SlCRF2 and SlERF2. The correlation analysis suggested that the fruit firmness was negatively correlated with ethylene biosynthesis and signaling pathway. The current study showed that exogenous H2S could inhibit the synthesis of endogenous ethylene and regulate ethylene signal transduction, thereby delaying fruit softening and the ripening process of tomato fruit during postharvest storage.