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J Exp Bot. 2019 Apr 24. pii: erz185. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erz185. [Epub ahead of print]

Nitric oxide accelerates germination via the regulation of respiration in chickpea.

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National Institute of Plant Genome Research, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, 110067, New Delhi, India.
School of Basic Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Mandi, Kamand 175005, HP, India.
Division of Genetics, ICAR-Indian Agriculture Research Institute, New Delhi, India.
Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, The King's Buildings, Max Born Crescent, Edinburgh EH9 3BF, UK.


Seed germination is crucial for the plant life cycle. We investigated the role of nitric oxide (NO) in two chickpea varieties that differ in germination capacity: Kabuli, which has a low rate of germination and germinates slowly, and Desi, which shows improved germination properties. Desi produced more NO than Kabuli and had lower respiratory rates. As a result of the high respiration rates, Kabuli had higher levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Treatment with the NO donor S-nitroso-N-acetyl-D,L-penicillamine (SNAP) reduced respiration in Kabuli and decreased ROS levels, resulting in accelerated germination rates. These findings suggest that NO plays a key role in the germination of Kabuli. SNAP increased the levels of transcripts encoding enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism and the cell cycle. Moreover, the levels of amino acids and organic acids were increased in Kabuli as a result of SNAP treatment. 1H-nuclear magnetic resonance analysis revealed that Kabuli has a higher capacity for glucose oxidation than Desi. An observed SNAP-induced increase in 13C incorporation into soluble alanine may result from enhanced oxidation of exogenous [13C]glucose via glycolysis and the pentose phosphate pathway. A homozygous hybrid that originated from a recombinant inbred line population of a cross between Desi and Kabuli germinated faster and had increased NO levels and a reduced accumulation of ROS compared with Kabuli. Taken together, these findings demonstrate the importance of NO in chickpea germination via the control of respiration and ROS accumulation.


Alternative oxidase; hydrogen peroxide; nitric oxide; nitrite; reactive oxygen species; superoxide


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