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Drought adaptation in plants with crassulacean acid metabolism involves the flexible use of different storage carbohydrate pools

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Johan Ceusters, Emerita Professor Anne Borland


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Nocturnal CO2 uptake in CAM plants is sustained by the degradation of storage carbohydrate which provides the acceptor (PEP) for the nocturnal carboxylase (PEPC). The investment of resources into a transient storage carbohydrate pool unavoidably places restriction on other metabolic activities including dark respiration, growth and acclimation to abiotic stress. In our recent report the flexible use of different storage carbohydrate pools is shown to be involved in the acclimation process to drought and recovery from dehydration. While starch breakdown stoichiometrically accounts for nocturnal CO2 uptake under well-watered conditions, the sucrose pool is maintained in preference to starch during progressing drought and sucrose becomes the major source of carbon fuelling the dark reactions after 45 days of water deprivation. Re-watering plants results in a recovery to the original situation, with starch constituting the main carbohydrate reserve for nocturnal provision of PEP. However, substantial amounts of starch are also retained in the leaves of re-watered plants by restricting export/respiration and thus provides a potential buffer capacity against a return to water deprivation. This significant conservation of starch suggests the ability to perceive, remember and anticipate the formerly encountered drought stress in some way, with the adaptation of the equilibrium of carbohydrate balance as a central factor underpinning the physiological homeostasis of CAM plants. ©2009 Landes Bioscience.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ceusters J, Borland AM, De Proft MP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Plant Signaling and Behavior

Year: 2009

Volume: 4

Issue: 3

Pages: 212-214

ISSN (print): 1559-2316

ISSN (electronic): 1559-2324

Publisher: Landes Bioscience


DOI: 10.4161/psb.4.3.7813


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