Use of metabolic inhibitors to elucidate mechanisms of recovery from desiccation stress in the resurrection plant Xerophyta humilis.

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Plant Growth Regulation

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University of Cape Town

Xerophyta humilis (Bak.) Dur. and Schinz is a poikilochlorophyllous resurrection plant in that it is tolerant of considerable water loss (< 5% relative water content [RWC]) and thylakoid membranes are dismantled and chlorophyll is lost during dehydration. In this paper we examined the processes associated with recovery from desiccation upon rehydration. Dried leaf explants were rehydrated in water (control) or in solutions of actinomycin-D or cyclohexamide in order to determine to what extent initial recovery was dependant on de novo transcription and translation respectively. Our results suggest that considerable protection of subcellular organisation and components of metabolism occurs during drying such that the initial recovery of metabolism on rehydration is virtually independent of de novo transcription of nuclear genes. However recovery does require the synthesis of new proteins. The plasmalemma remains intact and macromolecular synthesis is not required for maintenance of its integrity. Messenger RNA's for chlorophyll biosynthesis appear to be stored in a stable form in the dried leaves and are translated on rehydration. Similarly most of the mRNA's necessary for recovery of electron transport in the chloroplast (as determined by measuring the quantum efficiency of photosystem II [FV/FM] using chlorophyll fluorescence) appear to be stabily present in the dried leaves. However, for total recovery of FV/FM new genomic transcription is necessary.