Plants Modify Biological Processes to Ensure Survival following Carbon Depletion: A Lolium perenne Model
Lee, JM and Sathish, P and Donaghy, DJ and Roach, J, Plants Modify Biological Processes to Ensure Survival following Carbon Depletion: A Lolium perenne Model, PL o S One, 5, (8) EJ ISSN 1932-6203 (2010) [Refereed Article]
Background: Plants, due to their immobility, have evolved mechanisms allowing them to adapt to multiple environmentaland management conditions. Short-term undesirable conditions (e.g. moisture deficit, cold temperatures) generally reduce photosynthetic carbon supply while increasing soluble carbohydrate accumulation. It is not known, however, what strategies plants may use in the long-term to adapt to situations resulting in net carbon depletion (i.e. reduced
photosynthetic carbon supply and carbohydrate accumulation). In addition, many transcriptomic experiments have typically been undertaken under laboratory conditions; therefore, long-term acclimation strategies that plants use in natural environments are not well understood.
Methodology/Principal Findings: Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) was used as a model plant to define whether plants adapt to repetitive carbon depletion and to further elucidate their long-term acclimation mechanisms. Transcriptome
changes in both lamina and stubble tissues of field-grown plants with depleted carbon reserves were characterised using reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). The RT-qPCR data for select key genes indicated that plants reduced fructan degradation, and increased photosynthesis and fructan synthesis capacities following carbon depletion. This acclimatory response was not sufficient to prevent a reduction (P,0.001) in net biomass accumulation, but ensured that the plant survived.
Conclusions: Adaptations of plants with depleted carbon reserves resulted in reduced post-defoliation carbon mobilization and earlier replenishment of carbon reserves, thereby ensuring survival and continued growth. These findings will help pave the way to improve plant biomass production, for either grazing livestock or biofuel purposes.