Salt Stress-Induced Changes in In Vitro Cultured Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni: Effect on Metabolite Contents, Antioxidant Capacity and Expression of Steviol Glycosides-Related Biosynthetic Genes

  • Simone Ribeiro LuchoEmail author
  • Marcelo Nogueira do Amaral
  • Priscila Ariane Auler
  • Valmor João Bianchi
  • María Ángeles Ferrer
  • Antonio Asensio Calderón
  • Eugenia Jacira Bolacel Braga


Stevia rebaudiana is an industrially and medicinally important herb, mainly due to its steviol glycoside content, which is a calorie-free natural sweetener. Moreover, it contains other phytochemicals that make this species potentially beneficial for health. Salt stress affects plant growth, development and plant metabolism. The present study was executed with the objective of evaluating the effect of different NaCl concentrations (0.0, 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 g L−1) on growth parameters, total soluble sugars, steviol glycosides and phenolic compounds (total soluble phenols, flavonoids and hydroxycinnamic acids), as well as antioxidant capacity (with a FRAP and DPPH assay). We also analysed in this study the expression levels of genes involved in the three stages of the steviol glycosides biosynthesis pathway in S. rebaudiana. Treatment with NaCl decreased root numbers and weights (dry and fresh), while increasing antioxidant capacity (according to the FRAP assay), hydroxycinnamic acid and total soluble sugar content. Furthermore, the up-regulation of several genes (CMS, CMK, HDR and UGT76G1) encoding key enzymes of the steviol glycoside biosynthetic pathways was observed after NaCl treatments. The results provide new insights into the physiological, biochemical and molecular response mechanisms of in vitro-grown stevia plants to NaCl.


Salinity Stevia Antioxidants Phenolic compounds Steviol glycosides Glycosides biosynthesis genes 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for their financial support and research fellowship EJBB and also the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS). This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—Brasil (CAPES)—Finance Code 001. This work was partially carried out at the IBV, UPCT (Spain).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simone Ribeiro Lucho
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marcelo Nogueira do Amaral
    • 1
  • Priscila Ariane Auler
    • 1
  • Valmor João Bianchi
    • 1
  • María Ángeles Ferrer
    • 2
  • Antonio Asensio Calderón
    • 2
  • Eugenia Jacira Bolacel Braga
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyFederal University of PelotasPelotasBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural Science and TechnologyUniversidad Politécnica de CartagenaCartagenaSpain

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