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Keywords:

  • Gliricidia sepium;
  • Nicotiana tabacum;
  • Phaseolus vulgaris;
  • alternative oxidase;
  • cytochrome pathway;
  • oxygen isotope fractionation;
  • regulation of respiration;
  • respiration

ABSTRACT

In this study the question whether the alternative respiratory pathway acts as an electron bypass for the cytochrome pathway under conditions of growth on limited phosphorus in leaves of bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) and Gliricidia sepium Walp was investigated. The oxygen isotope fractionation technique was used to assess the in vivo activities of the cytochrome and alternative respiratory pathways in the absence of added inhibitors. The response of respiration to low phosphorus supply varied among species. Growth at low phosphorus reduced cytochrome pathway activity in bean and tobacco. Alternative pathway activity increased only in bean leaves in response to low phosphorus and not in tobacco. In the case of G. sepium, cytochrome pathway activity remained unchanged whereas the alternative pathway activity increased with low nutritional phosphorus. At low phosphorus, alternative oxidase protein levels increased in the leaves of bean and G. sepium but not in tobacco, suggesting a dependence of alternative pathway activity on protein level. Alternative pathway activity was also not correlated with soluble carbohydrate concentration in bean or tobacco at any phosphorus level. These results show that the alternative pathway does not always act as an electron bypass in response to the downstream restriction of the cytochrome pathway imposed by low phosphorus supply. These results suggest that factors in addition to cellular carbohydrate level and adenylate control can act to regulate alternative pathway activity.