Original Paper

Acta Physiologiae Plantarum

, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 1651-1658

First online:

Abscisic acid induces heat tolerance in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) seedlings by facilitated accumulation of osmoprotectants

  • Sanjeev KumarAffiliated withDepartment of Botany, Panjab University
  • , Neeru KaushalAffiliated withDepartment of Botany, Panjab University
  • , Harsh NayyarAffiliated withDepartment of Botany, Panjab University Email author 
  • , P. GaurAffiliated withICRISAT

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The gradual rise of global temperature is of major concern for growth and development of crops. Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is a heat-sensitive crop and hence experiences damage at its vegetative and reproductive stages. Abscisic acid (ABA), a stress-related hormone, is reported to confer heat tolerance, but its mechanism is not fully known, especially whether it involves osmolytes (such as proline, glycine betaine and trehalose) in its action or not. Osmolytes too have a vital role in saving the plants from injurious effects of heat stress by multiple mechanisms. In the present study, we examined the interactive effects of ABA and osmolytes in chickpea plants grown hydroponically at varying temperatures of 30/25°C (control), 35/30, 40/35 and 45/40°C (as day/night (12 h/12 h)): (a) in the absence of ABA; (b) with ABA; and (c) in the presence of its biosynthetic inhibitor fluridone (FLU). The findings indicated severe growth inhibition at 45/40°C that was associated with drastic reduction in endogenous ABA and osmolytes compared to the unstressed plants suggesting a possible relationship between them. Exogenous application of ABA (2.5 μM) significantly mitigated the seedling growth at 40/35 and 45/40°C, while FLU application intensified the inhibition. The increase in growth by ABA at stressful temperature was associated with enhancement of endogenous levels of ABA and osmolytes, while this was suppressed by FLU. ABA-treated plants experienced much less oxidative damage measured as malondialdehyde and hydrogen peroxide contents. Exogenous application of proline, glycine betaine and trehalose (10 μM) also promoted the growth in heat-stressed plants and their action was not significantly affected with FLU application, suggesting that these osmolytes function downstream of ABA, mediating partially the protective effect of this hormone.


Abscisic acid High temperature Chickpea Osmolytes