• cell death;
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii;
  • ethylene;
  • nitric oxide

This work demonstrates a contribution of ethylene and NO (nitric oxide) in MP (mastoparan)-induced cell death in the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Following MP treatment, C. reinhardtii showed massive cell death, expressing morphological features of PCD (programmed cell death). A pharmacological approach involving combined treatments with MP and ethylene- and NO-interacting compounds indicated the requirement of trace amounts of both ethylene and NO in MP-induced cell death. By employing a carbon dioxide laser-based photoacoustic detector to measure ethylene and a QCL (quantum cascade laser)-based spectrometer for NO detection, simultaneous increases in the production of both ethylene and NO were observed following MP application. Our results show a tight regulation of the levels of both signalling molecules in which ethylene stimulates NO production and NO stimulates ethylene production. This suggests that, in conjunction with the elicitor, NO and ethylene cooperate and act synchronously in the mediation of MP-induced PCD in C. reinhardtii. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the functional significance of ethylene and NO in MP-induced cell death.