Glycine betaine (GB) can confer tolerance to several types of stress at low concentrations, either after application to plants or in transgenics engineered to overproduce GB. Based on earlier studies on levels of GB in plants and evidence for effects on gene expression, we hypothesized that at least part of this effect could be ascribed to the activation of the expression of stress tolerance genes. Using a strategy based on high-throughput gene expression analysis with microarrays followed by confirmation with northern blots, we identified Arabidopsis genes upregulated in roots that reinforce intracellular processes protecting cells from oxidative damage and others that appear to be involved in reinforcing a scavenging system for reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cell walls. Upregulated genes in roots include those for the membrane-trafficking RabA4c, the root-specific NADPH-dependent ferric reductase (FRO2) localized to the plasma membrane, mitochondrial catalase 2 and the cell wall peroxidase ATP3a. Comparative studies with wild-type Arabidopsis and knockout mutants for the membrane-trafficking RabA4c gene demonstrated that the mutants respond only slightly to GB, if at all, compared with wild-type in relation to root growth recovery after chilling stress, demonstrating the role of RabA4c in relation to the GB effect. The results point toward links between oxidative stress, gene expression, membrane trafficking and scavenging of ROS such as superoxide and hydrogen peroxide in relation to GB effects on chilling tolerance in plants.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science