Chlorophyll a fluorescence, enzyme and antioxidant analyses provide evidence for the operation of alternative electron sinks during leaf senescence in a stay-green mutant of Festuca pratensis

A. H. Kingston-Smith, Howard Thomas, C. H. Foyer

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Abstract

Mutation of the sid gene in Festuca pratensis prevents chlorophyll degradation. The senescing leaves retain their chlorophyll complement and stay green. Nevertheless, CO 2 assimilation and ribulose-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase content decline in both mutant and wild-type plants. Photosynthesis and chlorophyll a fluorescence measurements were performed in air and at low oxygen to prevent photorespiration. The maximum extractable activity of ribulose 1,5 bisphosphate carboxylase was higher in the senescent mutant leaves than in those of the wild-type control but was much lower than that observed in the mature leaves of either genotype. The activation state of this enzyme was similar in mutant and wild-type lines at equivalent stages of development. Analysis of chlorophyll a fluorescence quenching with varying irradiance showed similar characteristics for mature leaves of the two genotypes. Genotypic variations in photosystem II (PSII) efficiency were observed only in the senescent leaves. Photochemical quenching and the quantum efficiency of PSII were greater in the senescent mutant leaves than in the wild type at a given irradiance. The calculated electron flux through PSII was substantially higher in the mutant with a greater proportion of electrons directed to photorespiration. Maximum catalytic activities of ascorbate peroxidase decreased in senescent compared to mature leaves of both genotypes, while glutathione reductase and monodehydroascorbate reductase were unchanged in both cases. Superoxide dismutase activity was approximately doubled and dehydroascorbate reductase activity was three times higher in senescent leaves compared with the mature leaves of both genotypes. In no case was there a difference in enzyme activities between mutant and wild type at equivalent growth stages. The pool of reduced ascorbate was similar in the mature leaves of the two genotypes, whereas it was significantly higher in the senescent leaves of the mutant compared with the wild type. Conversely, the hydrogen peroxide content was significantly higher in the mature leaves of the wild type than in those of the mutant, but in senescent leaves similar values were obtained. In leaves subjected to chilling stress the reduced ascorbate pool was higher in both mature and senescent leaves of the mutant than in their wild-type counterparts. Similarly, the hydrogen peroxide pool was significantly lower in both mature and senescent leaves of the mutant than in the wild type. We conclude that, in spite of deceased CO 2 assimilation, the mutant is capable of high rates of electron flow. The high ascorbate/hydrogen peroxide ratio observed in the mutant, particularly at low temperatures, suggests that the senescent leaves are not subject to enhanced oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1323-1337
Number of pages15
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Volume20
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1997

Keywords

  • Antioxidant
  • Chlorophyll
  • Festuca pratensis
  • Fluorescence
  • Mehler reaction
  • Photosynthesis
  • Senescence
  • Stay-green

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