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Plant Physiol Biochem. 2007 Sep;45(9):705-10. Epub 2007 Jun 3.

Osmoregulation in Dunaliella, Part II: Photosynthesis and starch contribute carbon for glycerol synthesis during a salt stress in Dunaliella tertiolecta.

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  • 1Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Texas A&M University - Commerce, 2600 South Neal Street, Commerce, TX 75429-3011, USA.


In response to an osmotic stress, Dunaliella tertiolecta osmoregulates by metabolizing intracellular glycerol as compatible solute. Upon the application of a salt stress to 0.17 M or 0.7 M NaCl grown D. tertiolecta cells, rates of total glycerol synthesis were substantially higher than that arising from photosynthetic (14)CO(2) fixation into glycerol. The source of this extra carbon is the reserve starch pool. The contribution of carbon from the starch breakdown to glycerol synthesis was estimated from the difference between the total glycerol synthesized and that arising from (14)CO(2) fixation. The maximum observed flux of carbon from (14)CO(2) to glycerol from photosynthesis was of the order of 15-20 micromol(14)C-glycerol mg(-1) Chl h(-1), whereas the total glycerol synthesis reached about 70 micromol glycerol mg(-1) Chl h(-1). The contribution of products of starch breakdown to glycerol synthesis increased progressively with increasing salt stress. In light, contrary to prevailing assumptions, both the photosynthesis and the starch breakdown contribute carbon to glycerol biosynthesis. The relative contributions of these two processes in the light, while cells were actively photosynthesizing, depended on the magnitude of the salt stress. On application of dilution stress, the flux of carbon from newly photosynthetically fixed (14)CO(2) into glycerol was reduced progressively with increasing dilution stress that was also accompanied by a decline in total glycerol contents of the cell. The maximum observed rate of glycerol dissimilation was about 135 micromol glycerol mg(-1) Chl h(-1).

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