Brassinosteroids accelerate recovery of photosynthetic apparatus from cold stress by balancing the electron partitioning, carboxylation and redox homeostasis in cucumber



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The aim of this study was to examine the role of brassinosteroids (BRs) in protecting the photosynthetic apparatus from cold-induced damage in cucumber (Cucumis sativus) plants. Recovery at both high light (HL) and low light (LL) after a cooling at 10/7°C induced irreversible inhibition of CO2 assimilation, photoinhibition at photosystem I (PSI) and inhibition of enzyme activities of Calvin cycle and ascorbate (AsA)-reduced glutathione (GSH) cycle, followed by accumulation of H2O2 and malondialdehyde. However, cold-induced photoinhibition at PSII was fully recovered at LL but not at HL. Meanwhile, recovery at HL increased electron flux to O2-dependent alternative pathway [Ja(O2-dependent)]. Foliar application of 24-epibrassinolide (EBR) accelerated recovery from photoinhibition of PSII but not of PSI. EBR also significantly increased CO2 assimilation, activity of Calvin cycle enzymes and electron flux to carbon reduction [Je(PCR)], with a concomitant decrease in Ja(O2-dependent); meanwhile EBR increased the activity of enzymes in AsA-GSH cycle and cellular redox states. However, the positive effect of EBR on plant recovery was observed only at HL, but not LL. These results indicate that BR accelerates the recovery of photosynthetic apparatus at HL by activation of enzymes in Calvin cycle and increasing the antioxidant capacity, which in turn mitigate the photooxidative stress and the inhibition of plant growth during the recovery.