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Keywords:

  • Drought;
  • isoprenoid;
  • Solanum;
  • α-tocopherol

Abstract

Isoprenoid compounds synthesised in the plastids are involved in plant response to water deficit. The functionality of the biosynthetic pathway of these compounds under drought stress has been analysed at the physiological and molecular levels in two related species of tomato (Solanum chilense and Solanum lycopersicum) that differ in their tolerance to abiotic challenge. Expression analysis of the genes encoding enzymes of these pathways (DXS, IPI, GGPPS, PSY1, NCED and HPT1) in plants at different RWC values shows significant differences for only GGPPS and HPT1, with higher expression in the tolerant S. chilense. Chlorophyll, carotenoids, α-tocopherol and ABA content was also determined in both species under different drought conditions. In agreement with HPT1 transcriptional activity, higher α-tocopherol content was observed in S. chilense than in S. lycopersicum, which correlates with a lower degree of lipoperoxidation in the former species. These results suggest that, in addition to lower stomatal conductance, α-tocopherol biosynthesis is part of the adaptation mechanisms of S. chilense to adverse environmental conditions.