Subcellular Effects of Drought Stress in Rosmarinus officinalis



Abstract: The use of Rosmarinus officinalis, and other wild plant species, in the Mediterranean area is an interesting solution in order to avoid the desertification and rapid soil erosion, because of their good resistance to environmental conditions. Previous articles have described experiments designed to determine the impact of water stress at the plant level in this species, but more knowledge is required at the subcellular and ultrastructural levels. An anatomic and ultrastructural study of the leaves was conducted on Rosmarinus officinalis plants growing under different water treatments. In the leaves of water-stressed plants, the leaf water potential and turgor decreased, and leaf osmotic potential became more negative with respect to control plants. The anatomic investigations showed that both the mesophyll intercellular spaces and the epidermal cell size were reduced significantly under the more intense drought stress conditions. At the subcellular level, chloroplasts accumulated plastoglobuli and lipid bodies, and cuticle thickness was increased under water stress. In our experiment, the anatomic and ultrastructural modifications of Rosmarinus officinalis could be considered an additional adaptation to drought stress together with physiological and biochemical modifications as antioxidant accumulation.