Planta

, Volume 230, Issue 1, pp 135–147 | Cite as

Lipophilic components of the brown seaweed, Ascophyllum nodosum, enhance freezing tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana

  • Prasanth Rayirath
  • Bernhard Benkel
  • D. Mark Hodges
  • Paula Allan-Wojtas
  • Shawna MacKinnon
  • Alan T. Critchley
  • Balakrishnan Prithiviraj
Original Article

Abstract

Extracts of the brown seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum enhance plant tolerance against environmental stresses such as drought, salinity, and frost. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this improved stress tolerance and the nature of the bioactive compounds present in the seaweed extracts that elicits stress tolerance remain largely unknown. We investigated the effect of A. nodosum extracts and its organic sub-fractions on freezing tolerance of Arabidopsis thaliana. Ascophyllum nodosum extracts and its lipophilic fraction significantly increased tolerance to freezing temperatures in in vitro and in vivo assays. Untreated plants exhibited severe chlorosis, tissue damage, and failed to recover from freezing treatments while the extract-treated plants recovered from freezing temperature of −7.5°C in in vitro and −5.5°C in in vivo assays. Electrolyte leakage measurements revealed that the LT50 value was lowered by 3°C while cell viability staining demonstrated a 30–40% reduction in area of damaged tissue in extract treated plants as compared to water controls. Moreover, histological observations of leaf sections revealed that extracts have a significant effect on maintaining membrane integrity during freezing stress. Treated plants exhibited 70% less chlorophyll damage during freezing recovery as compared to the controls, and this correlated with reduced expression of the chlorphyllase genes AtCHL1 and AtCHL2. Further, the A. nodosum extract treatment modulated the expression of the cold response genes, COR15A, RD29A, and CBF3, resulting in enhanced tolerance to freezing temperatures. More than 2.6-fold increase in expression of RD29A, 1.8-fold increase of CBF3 and two-fold increase in the transcript level of COR15A was observed in plants treated with lipophilic fraction of A. nodosum at −2°C. Taken together, the results suggest that chemical components in A. nodosum extracts protect membrane integrity and affect the expression of stress response genes leading to freezing stress tolerance in A. thaliana.

Keywords

Arabidopsis thaliana Ascophyllum nodosum Freezing tolerance Lipophilic compounds Seaweed extract Sustainable agriculture 

Abbreviations

NMR

Nuclear magnetic resonance

FYM

Farmyard manure

COR

Cold responsive

ANE

Ascophyllum nodosum extract

TMS

Tetramethylsilane

NIH

National Institutes of Health

PME

Pectin methyl esterase

CBF

CRT/DRE binding factor

Supplementary material

425_2009_920_MOESM1_ESM.tif (6.2 mb)
Supplementary Figure 1. Pectin methyl esterase activity in plants treated with ANE (1.0 g L-1) orethyl acetate sub-fractions (1.0 g L-1) and untreated controls. (TIFF 6357 kb)
425_2009_920_MOESM2_ESM.doc (38 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 37 kb)
425_2009_920_MOESM3_ESM.doc (47 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOC 47 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Prasanth Rayirath
    • 1
  • Bernhard Benkel
    • 1
  • D. Mark Hodges
    • 2
  • Paula Allan-Wojtas
    • 2
  • Shawna MacKinnon
    • 3
  • Alan T. Critchley
    • 4
  • Balakrishnan Prithiviraj
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant and Animal SciencesNova Scotia Agricultural CollegeTruroCanada
  2. 2.Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research CentreAgriculture and Agri-Food CanadaKentvilleCanada
  3. 3.Institute for Marine BiosciencesNational Research Council of CanadaHalifaxCanada
  4. 4.Acadian Seaplants LimitedDartmouthCanada

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