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Leaf Soluble Sugars And Free Amino Acids As Important Components Of Abscisic Acid—Mediated Drought Response In Tomato

Bojana Živanović, Sonja Milić Komić, Tomislav Tosti, Marija Vidović, Ljiljana Prokić, Sonja Veljović Jovanović

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Water deficit has a global impact on plant growth and crop yield. Climate changes are going to increase the intensity, duration and frequency of severe droughts, particularly in southern and south-eastern Europe, elevating the water scarcity issues. We aimed to assess the contribution of endogenous abscisic acid (ABA) in the protective mechanisms against water deficit, including stomatal conductance, relative water potential and the accumulation of osmoprotectants, as well as on growth parameters. To achieve that, we used a suitable model system, ABA-deficient tomato mutant, flacca and its parental line. Flacca mutant exhibited constitutively higher levels of soluble sugars (e.g., galactose, arabinose, sorbitol) and free amino acids (AAs) compared with the wild type (WT). Water deficit provoked the strong accumulation of proline in both genotypes, and total soluble sugars only in flacca. Upon re-watering, these osmolytes returned to the initial levels in both genotypes. Our results indicate that flacca compensated higher stomatal conductance with a higher constitutive level of free sugars and AAs. Additionally, we suggest that the accumulation of AAs, particularly proline and its precursors and specific branched-chain AAs in both, glucose and sucrose in flacca, and sorbitol in WT, could contribute to maintaining growth rate during water deficit and recovery in both tomato genotypes.