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Spatio-temporal heterogeneity in Arabidopsis thaliana leaves under drought stress


  • Editor
    R. Leegood

M. Moustakas, Department of Botany, School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece.


Using chlorophyll (chl) fluorescence imaging, we studied the effect of mild (MiDS), moderate (MoDS) and severe (SDS) drought stress on photosystem II (PSII) photochemistry of 4-week-old Arabidopsis thaliana. Spatio-temporal heterogeneity in all chl fluorescence parameters was maintained throughout water stress. After exposure to drought stress, maximum quantum yield of PSII photochemistry (Fv/Fm) and quantum efficiency of PSII photochemistry (ΦPSΙΙ) decreased less in the proximal (base) than in the distal (tip) leaf. The chl fluorescence parameter Fv/Fm decreased less after MoDS than MiDS. Under MoDS, the antioxidant mechanism of A. thaliana leaves seemed to be sufficient in scavenging reactive oxygen species, as evident by the decreased lipid peroxidation, the more excitation energy dissipated by non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) and decreased excitation pressure (1−qp). Arabidopsis leaves appear to function normally under MoDS, but do not seem to have particular metabolic tolerance mechanisms under MiDS and SDS, as revealed by the level of lipid peroxidation and decreased quantum yield for dissipation after down-regulation in PSII (ΦNPQ), indicating that energy dissipation by down-regulation did not function and electron transport (ETR) was depressed. The simultaneous increased quantum yield of non-regulated energy dissipation (ΦNO) indicated that both the photochemical energy conversion and protective regulatory mechanism were insufficient. The non-uniform photosynthetic pattern under drought stress may reflect different zones of leaf anatomy and mesophyll development. The data demonstrate that the effect of different degrees of drought stress on A. thaliana leaves show spatio-temporal heterogeneity, implying that common single time point or single point leaf analyses are inadequate.