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Isoprene emission protects photosynthesis but reduces plant productivity during drought in transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plants

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>01/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>New Phytologist
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)205-216
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date17/09/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Isoprene protects the photosynthetic apparatus of isoprene-emitting plants from oxidative stress. The role of isoprene in the response of plants to drought is less clear.

Water was withheld from transgenic isoprene-emitting and non-emitting tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plants, to examine: the response of isoprene emission to plant water deficit; a possible relationship between concentrations of the drought-induced phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) and isoprene; and whether isoprene affected foliar reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxidation levels.

Isoprene emission did not affect whole-plant water use, foliar ABA concentration or leaf water potential under water deficit. Compared with well-watered controls, droughted non-emitting plants significantly increased ROS content (31–46%) and lipid peroxidation (30–47%), concomitant with decreased operating and maximum efficiencies of photosystem II photochemistry and lower leaf and whole-plant water use efficiency (WUE). Droughted isoprene-emitting plants showed no increase in ROS content or lipid peroxidation relative to well-watered controls, despite isoprene emission decreasing before leaf wilting.

Although isoprene emission protected the photosynthetic apparatus and enhanced leaf and whole-plant WUE, non-emitting plants had 8–24% more biomass under drought, implying that isoprene emission incurred a yield penalty.