The objectives of this study were (i) to evaluate the relative involvement of fructans from leaf sheaths and from elongating leaf bases to regrowth after defoliation of Lolium perenne L. by following fructan exohydrolase (FEH), sucrose-sucrose fructosyl transferase (SST) and invertase (INV) activities and (ii) to examine whether gibberellins could be implicated in regulation of FEH activity. In stubble, 36% of fructans are located in leaf bases and 64% in leaf sheaths. During the first phase of regrowth, the depletion of carbohydrates was mainly due to the decline of fructans, which represented 76% and 50% of the carbohydrates mobilized from leaf sheaths and elongating leaf bases respectively. Despite a decrease in protein content, FEH activity increased 2·5-fold in leaf sheaths and six-fold in elongating leaf bases, so that the fructan-hydrolysing activity was four times higher in growing leaves than in leaf sheaths, 2 d after defoliation. INV activity also increased, whereas the pattern of SST activity was inversely related to the variations of both hydrolysing activities. SST activity, which is highest in growing leaves, declined approximately threefold in leaf sheaths and elongating leaf bases at the beginning of regrowth.
The increase in activity of FEH in stubble was strongly inhibited by an inhibitor of the biosynthesis of gibberellin, uniconazole. FEH activity was decreased to c. 67%, 45% and 33% of the level in nontreated plants 24, 48 and 72 h following defoliation, respectively. The inhibition could be overcome by a subsequent treatment with gibberellic acids (GAs). For the first time, data are provided to support the view that GAs might play a role in the regulation of FEH activity, and the implication of this result is discussed.