Osmotic stress responses of individual white oak (Quercus section, Quercus subgenus) genotypes cultured in vitro

Zita Demeter, Péter Kanalas, Csaba Máthé, Klára Cseke, Erzsébet Szőllősi, Márta M-Hamvas, Katalin Jámbrik, Zoltán Kiss, Ilona Mészáros
Journal of Plant Physiology 2014 January 15, 171 (2): 16-24
White oaks (Quercus section, Quercus subgenus) are widely distributed in Europe. Quercus petraea (sessile oak), an economically important species is predicted to be affected by climate change. Q. pubescens (pubescent oak) and Q. virgiliana (Italian pubescent oak) are economically less important, drought tolerant species. Frequent hybridization of white oaks was observed and currently the introgression of Q. pubescens and Q. virgiliana in non-mediterranean regions of Europe has been reported. Our goal was to use tissue cultures established from individual trees of the above taxa and their putative hybrids, all present in the forest stand of Síkfőkút LTER Research Area (NE Hungary) as simple experimental model systems for studying drought/osmotic stress tolerance. Tissue cultures are more suitable models for such studies, than seedlings, because they are genetically identical to the parent plants. Polyethylene glycol (PEG6000) treatments were used for this purpose. The identification of taxa was based on leaf morphological traits and microsatellite analysis and showed that Q. petraea is genetically distinct to all other taxa examined. We established six callus lines of Quercus. As expected, in Q. petraea cultures PEG6000 induced severe loss of fresh weight and the ability to recover after removal of the osmoticum, which was not characteristic for Q. pubescens and Q. virgiliana. Putative hybrids exhibited an intermediate response to osmotic stress. Activity gels showed the increase of single-strand preferring (SSP) nuclease and no significant change of guaiacol-peroxidase activities in drought-sensitive genotypes/cultures and no significant increase of SSP nuclease activities accompanied with increases of guaiacol-peroxidase activities in drought-tolerant ones. This indicates that drought/osmotic stress tolerance is associated to increased capacity of scavenging reactive oxygen species and hence less susceptibility to DNA damage. Our results confirm that tissue cultures of oak are suitable model systems for studying drought/osmotic stress responses.

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