Wheat is one of the most important cereals, whose growth and development is strongly limited by drought. This study investigated the physiological and metabolic response of six winter wheat cultivars to drought with the emphasis on the induction of dominant metabolites affected by the treatment and genotypes or both. The plants were exposed to a moderate (non-lethal) drought stress, which was induced by withholding watering for six days under controlled greenhouse conditions. A decline in CO 2 assimilation (Pn) and transpiration rate, stomata closure, a decrease in relative water content (RWC) and increase of malondialdehyde content were observed in drought-treated plants of all cultivars. These changes were most pronounced in Ellvis, while Soissons was able to retain the higher RWC and Pn. Among the studied metabolites, sugars (sucrose, glucose, fructose, several disaccharides), organic acids (malic acid, oxalic acids), amino acids (proline, threonine, gamma-aminobu-tyric acid (GABA), glutamine) and sugar alcohols such as myo-inositol accumulated to higher levels in the plants exposed to drought stress in comparison with the control. The accumulation of several metabolites in response to drought differed between the genotypes. Drought induced the production of sucrose, malic acid and oxalic acid, unknown organic acid 1, unknown disaccharide 1, 2 and 3, GABA, L-threonine, glutamic acid in four (Soissons, Žitarka, Antonija or Toborzó) out of six genotypes. In addition, Soissons, which was the most drought tolerant genotype, accumulated the highest amount of unknown disaccharide 5, galactonic and phosphoric acids. The two most drought sensitive cultivars, Srpanjka and Ellvis, demonstrated different metabolic adjustment in response to the stress treatment. Srpanjka responded to drought by increasing the amount of glucose and fructose originated from hydrolyses of sucrose and accumulating unidentified sugar alcohols 1 and 2. In Ellvis, drought caused inhibition of photosynthetic carbon metabolism, as evidence by the decreased Pn, gs, RWC and accumulation levels of sugar metabolites (sucrose, glucose and fructose). The results revealed the differences in metabolic response to drought among the genotypes, which drew attention on metabolites related with general response and on those metabolites which are part of specific response that may play an important role in drought tolerance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)