Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 219–234 | Cite as

Photosynthetic and biochemical mechanisms of an EMS-mutagenized cowpea associated with its resistance to cowpea severe mosaic virus

  • Pedro F. N. Souza
  • Fredy D. A. Silva
  • Fabricio E. L. Carvalho
  • Joaquim A. G. Silveira
  • Ilka M. Vasconcelos
  • Jose T. A. OliveiraEmail author
Original Article


Key message

The seed treatment of a CPSMV-susceptible cowpea genotype with the mutagenic agent EMS generated mutagenized resistant plantlets that respond to the virus challenge by activating biochemical and physiological defense mechanisms.


Cowpea is an important crop that makes major nutritional contributions particularly to the diet of the poor population worldwide. However, its production is low, because cowpea is naturally exposed to several abiotic and biotic stresses, including viral agents. Cowpea severe mosaic virus (CPSMV) drastically affects cowpea grain production. This study was conducted to compare photosynthetic and biochemical parameters of a CPSMV-susceptible cowpea (CE-31 genotype) and its derived ethyl methanesulfonate-mutagenized resistant plantlets, both challenged with CPSMV, to shed light on the mechanisms of virus resistance. CPSMV inoculation was done in the fully expanded secondary leaves, 15 days after planting. At 7 days post-inoculation, in vivo photosynthetic parameters were measured and leaves collected for biochemical analysis. CPSMV-inoculated mutagenized-resistant cowpea plantlets (MCPI) maintained higher photosynthesis index, chlorophyll, and carotenoid contents in relation to the susceptible (CE-31) CPSMV-inoculated cowpea (CPI). Visually, the MCPI leaves did not exhibit any viral symptoms neither the presence of the virus as examined by RT-PCR. In addition, MCPI showed higher SOD, GPOX, chitinase, and phenylalanine ammonia lyase activities, H2O2, phenolic contents, and cell wall lignifications, but lower CAT and APX activities in comparison to CPI. All together, these photosynthetic and biochemical changes might have contributed for the CPSMS resistance of MCPI. Contrarily, CPI plantlets showed CPSMV accumulation, severe disease symptoms, reduction in the photosynthesis-related parameters, chlorophyll, carotenoid, phenolic compound, and H2O2 contents, in addition to increased β-1,3-glucanase, and catalase activities that might have favored viral infection.


Cowpea CPSMV Plant defense Photosynthesis PR-proteins 



Council for Advanced Professional Training (CAPES) sponsored Pedro F. N. Souza with a doctoral grant. National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq, grant 308107/2013-6), Research Council of the State of Ceara (FUNCAP, grant 2155/PRONEX), and Cearense Federation of Research and Culture (FCPC, Grant 09/2008) financially supported this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

299_2016_2074_MOESM1_ESM.tif (1.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 1893 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pedro F. N. Souza
    • 1
  • Fredy D. A. Silva
    • 1
  • Fabricio E. L. Carvalho
    • 1
  • Joaquim A. G. Silveira
    • 1
  • Ilka M. Vasconcelos
    • 1
  • Jose T. A. Oliveira
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Plant Defense Proteins, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyFederal University of CearaFortalezaBrazil

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