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Strigolactone Alleviates Herbicide Toxicity Via Maintaining Antioxidant Homeostasis In Watermelon (Citrullus Lanatus)

Abid Ali, Guy Kateta Malangisha, Haiyang Yang, Chen Li, Chi Wang, Yubin Yang, Ahmed Mahmoud, Jehanzeb Khan, Jinghua Yang, Zhongyuan Hu, Mingfang Zhang

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Strigolactone (SL) plays essential roles in regulating plant growth, development, and stress response. This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of exogenous SL on watermelon resistance against herbicides penoxsulam (PXL) and bensulfuron-methyl (BSM). These herbicides were found to negatively impact watermelon root growth and photosynthetic pigments, probably due to the ultrastructural damage and cell death in leaf and root tissues under herbicide stresses. The activation of SL-related gene expression suggested that the SL pathway may mitigate herbicide toxicity in watermelon. The exogenous SL dose-dependently reversed the PXL- or BSM-induced antioxidant activity, suggesting that SL may participate in maintaining antioxidant enzyme homeostasis under herbicide stresses. The up-regulation of herbicide metabolization and detoxification-related genes (cytochrome P450 and acetolactate synthase) by exogenous SL also in part explained how this phytohormone alleviates herbicide toxicity in watermelon. Our findings will provide valuable information underlying the regulatory effects of SL on herbicide tolerance in Cucurbitaceae crops.