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Physiol Plant. 2002 Aug;115(4):531-540.

Effects of water stress on antioxidant enzymes of leaves and nodules of transgenic alfalfa overexpressing superoxide dismutases.

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Departamento de Nutrición Vegetal, Estación Experimental de Aula Dei, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Apdo 202,E-50080 Zaragoza, Spain Departamento de Ciencias del Medio Natural, Universidad Pública de Navarra, E-31006 Pamplona, Spain Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, Plas Gogerddan, Aberystwyth, SY23 3EB, UK.


The antioxidant composition and relative water stress tolerance of nodulated alfalfa plants (Medicago sativa L. x Sinorhizobium meliloti 102F78) of the elite genotype N4 and three derived transgenic lines have been studied in detail. These transgenic lines overproduced, respectively, Mn-containing superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the mitochondria of leaves and nodules, MnSOD in the chloroplasts, and FeSOD in the chloroplasts. In general for all lines, water stress caused moderate decreases in MnSOD and FeSOD activities in both leaves and nodules, but had distinct tissue-dependent effects on the activities of the peroxide-scavenging enzymes. During water stress, with a few exceptions, ascorbate peroxidase and catalase activities increased moderately in leaves but decreased in nodules. At mild water stress, transgenic lines showed, on average, 20% higher photosynthetic activity than the parental line, which suggests a superior tolerance of transgenic plants under these conditions. However, the untransformed and the transgenic plants performed similarly during moderate and severe water stress and recovery with respect to important markers of metabolic activity and of oxidative stress in leaves and nodules. We conclude that the base genotype used for transformation and the background SOD isozymic composition may have a profound effect on the relative tolerance of the transgenic lines to abiotic stress.


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