Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi improve the antioxidant capacity of tea (Camellia sinensis) seedlings under drought stress
A pot experiment was carried out to evaluate the response of leaf antioxidant enzyme systems to inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF) Clariodeoglomus etunicatum in tea (Camellia sinensis cv. ‘Fuding Dabaicha’) seedlings under drought stress (DS). Root AMF colonization was significantly decreased after an eight-week soil drought treatment. Plant growth performance (plant height, stem diameter, leaf number and root biomass), leaf relative water content, and leaf water potential were notably decreased under DS conditions, whereas these variables exhibited significantly higher responses in mycorrhizal seedlings than in non-mycorrhizal seedlings. The DS treatment markedly increased leaf superoxide anion concentration but did not affect malondialdehyde content, whereas both were reasonably decreased by AMF colonization regardless of water status. The seedlings colonized by AMF showed substantially higher antioxidant enzyme activities including superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), guaiacol peroxidase, and ascorbate peroxidase than the non-AMF colonized seedlings under both well-watered and DS conditions. DS markedly upregulated the relative expression of CsSOD in both AMF and non-AMF seedlings and the relative expression of CsCAT in AMF seedlings. Meanwhile, AMF-colonized seedlings represent markedly higher relative expressions of CsSOD and CsCAT than non-AMF seedlings, irrespective of water status. It concludes that mycorrhizal tea plants had higher antioxidant enzyme activity and corresponding gene expression under DS, indicating a stronger ability to alleviate the oxidative damage of drought.
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