Inoculation with Clariodeoglomus etunicatum improves leaf food quality of tea exposed to P stress
The present study aimed to evaluate the effect of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF), Clariodeoglomus etunicatum, on leaf food quality and relevant gene expression levels of tea (Camellia sinensis cv. ‘Fuding Dabaicha’) seedlings exposed to 0.5 μM P (P0.5) and 50 μM P (P50) levels. Twenty-four weeks later, the seedlings recorded higher root mycorrhizal fungal colonization in P50 than in P0.5. AMF-inoculated tea plants represented significantly higher leaf fructose and glucose contents and lower sucrose content than non-inoculated plants, irrespective of substate P levels. AMF treatment also increased total amino acids content in P0.5 and P50, accompanied with higher expression of glutamate dehydrogenase (CsGDH) and lower expression of glutamine synthetase (CsGS) and glutamine oxoglutarate aminotransferase (CsGOGAT). The total flavonoid content was higher in mycorrhizal versus non-mycorrhizal plants under P0.5 and P50, together with induced expression of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (CsPAL) and cinnamic acid 4-hydroxylase (CsC4H). Mycorrhizal fungal inoculation improved catechins content, which is due to the up-regulated expression of flavanone 3-hydroxylase (CsF3H), flavonoid 3'-hydroxylase (CsF3'H), dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (CsDFR), leucoanthocyanidin reductase (CsLAR), anthocyanidin reductase (CsANR), and chalcone isomerase (CsCHI) under P0.5. However, under P50, the gene involved in catechins synthesis was not affected or down-regulated by mycorrhization, implying a complex mechanism (e.g. nutrient improvement). AMF also inhibited the tea caffeine synthase 1 (CsTCS1) expression regardless of P levels. Therefore, the results of this study concluded that inoculation with C. etunicatum improves leaf food quality of tea exposed to P stress, but the improved mechanisms were different between P0.5 and P50.
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