When chilling-sensitive plants are chilled, root hydraulic conductance (Lo) declines precipitously; Lo also declines in chilling-tolerant plants, but it subsequently recovers, whereas in chilling-sensitive plants it does not. As a result, the chilling-sensitive plants dry out and may die. Using a chilling-sensitive and a chilling-tolerant maize genotype we investigated the effect of chilling on Lo, and its relationship to osmotic water permeability of isolated root cortex protoplasts, aquaporin gene expression, aquaporin abundance, and aquaporin phosphorylation, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) accumulation in the roots and electrolyte leakage from the roots. Because chilling can cause H 2O2 accumulation we also determined the effects of a short H2O2 treatment of the roots and examined the same parameters. We conclude from these studies that the recovery of Lo during chilling in the chilling-tolerant genotype is made possible by avoiding or repairing membrane damage and by a greater abundance and/or activity of aquaporins. The same changes in aquaporins take place in the chilling-sensitive genotype, but we postulate that membrane damage prevents the Lo recovery. It appears that the aquaporin response is necessary but not sufficient to respond to chilling injury. The plant must also be able to avoid the oxidative damage that accompanies chilling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science