Reduced glutathione (GSH) is an antioxidant in plants and is one of the important ways for plants to combat low-temperature stress. In this paper, Eriobotrya japonica Lindl. cv. Zaozhong No. 6 seedlings were used to study the effects of exogenous 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) application on glutathione synthesis and cyclic metabolism of loquat seedlings under low-temperature stress and to explore the regulatory mechanism of ALA on loquat cold tolerance. The results showed that ALA treatment could increase the content of GSH and the reduced glutathione/oxidized glutathione (GSH/GSSG) ratio in loquat leaf slices under low-temperature stress; reduce the electrolyte leakage rate and GSSG, H2O2and MDA contents in leaf tissues; and alleviate the peroxidation damage caused by low temperature. ALA treatment increased the activity of γ-glutamine synthetase (γ-ECS) in loquat leaf slices under low-temperature stress and promoted the biosynthesis of reduced glutathione, thereby increasing the GSH content in leaf tissues. On the other hand, ALA treatment could also improve the activities of glutathione reductase (GR), glutathione S-transferase (GST) and glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and promote the cyclic regeneration of GSH, accordingly maintaining a high GSH/GSSG ratio, promoting the removal of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and enhancing the antioxidant capacity of leaves. The regulatory effect of ALA on enhancing the antioxidant capacity of loquat seedlings under low-temperature stress can be inhibited by L-buthionine-sulfoximine (BSO, GSH biosynthesis inhibitor). The results showed that ALA improved the antioxidant capacity of loquat seedlings under low-temperature stress, and GSH was involved in the regulation of the antioxidant effect of ALA on loquat seedlings under low-temperature stress.
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