Peculiarities of drought effects on the water relations, chlorophyll content, chloroplasts’ antioxidant enzymes activity, CO2 assimilation and transpiration at optimal and elevated temperatures as well as on the grain productivity of transgenic bread winter wheat plants containing double-stranded RNA suppressor of the proline dehydrogenase (pdh) gene, compared to the original genotype were studied in pot experiment. Drought for plants of both genotypes was applied by reducing soil moisture to the level of 30 % of field capacity (FC) that was maintained for seven days during the earing-flowering period. Soil moisture for control plants, as well as treated plants, except for the period of drought, was maintained at the optimal level of 60—70 % of FC. Measurements of physiological and biochemical indices were performed on a flag leaf on the first day of soil moisture reached 30 % of FC and on the seventh day of the drought. It was found that seven-day water scarcity decreased the relative water content in the leaves of transgenic plants less than in the plants of the original line. At the same time, drought reduced chlorophyll content more in transgenic plants than in non-transgenic ones. Drought inhibited the CO2 assimilation and transpiration intensity, however in transgenic plants, in contrast to non-transgenic, the degree of decline at the end of the drought was significantly less than at the onset, indicating improved adaptability of the photosynthetic apparatus in transgenic plants. Furthermore, this peculiarity was also confirmed by the formation of cross-tolerance — lessening the inhibitory effect of high temperature (heating at 42 °C) on the CO2 assimilation in stressed plants after a seven-day drought, compared with its beginning. The reduction in the harmful effect of high temperature on photosynthesis under prolonged drought was stronger in transgenic plants. The presence of a double-stranded RNA suppressor of the pdh gene in transgenic plants sustainably increased the activity of chloroplasts’ superoxide dismutase in contrast to the activity of chloroplasts’ ascorbate peroxidase under optimal irrigation and essentially modified changes in the activity of these enzymes under drought conditions that can be one of reasons for the differences between transgenic and non-transgenic lines in adaptivability. Under optimal watering, the studied lines did not differ in plant grain productivity, but drought significantly less reduced the weight of grain from the ear of the main shoot (by 21 %) and the whole plant (by 33 %) in transgenic plants than in plants of the original line (40 and 52 %, respectively). Therefore, the presence of a double-stranded RNA suppressor of the proline dehydrogenase gene in transgenic plants of winter wheat plants improves the adaptive properties of the photosynthetic apparatus and reduces the loss of grain productivity under drought conditions.
Keywords: Triticum aestivum L., transgenic plants, proline, drought, high temperature stress, photosynthesis, cross-adaptation, antioxidant enzymes (SOD, APX), productivity
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