, Volume 247, Issue 1, pp 69–97 | Cite as

Comparative physiological and proteomic analyses reveal different adaptive strategies by Cymbidium sinense and C. tracyanum to drought

  • Jia-Wei Li
  • Xiao-Dong Chen
  • Xiang-Yang Hu
  • Lan Ma
  • Shi-Bao Zhang
Original Article


Main conclusion

A terrestrial orchid, Cymbidium sinense appears to utilizes “remedy strategy”, while an epiphytic orchid, C. tracyanum , employs a “precaution strategy” to drought stress based on morphological, physiological and proteomic analysis.

Drought condition influences plant growth and productivity. Although the mechanism by which plants adapt to this abiotic stress has been studied extensively, the water-adaptive strategies of epiphytes grown in water-limited habitats remain undefined. Here, root and leaf anatomies, dynamic changes in physiological and proteomic responses during periods of drought stress and recovery studied in an epiphytic orchid (Cymbidium tracyanum) and a terrestrial orchid (C. sinense) to investigate their strategies for coping with drought. Compared with C. sinense, C. tracyanum showed stronger drought-resistant adaptive characteristics to drought because its leaves had more negative water potential at turgor loss point and roots had higher proportion of velamen radicum thickness. Although both species demonstrated quick recovery of photosynthesis after stress treatment, they differed in physiological and proteomic responses. We detected and functionally characterized 103 differentially expressed proteins in C. sinense and 104 proteins in C. tracyanum. These proteins were mainly involved in carbon and energy metabolism, photosynthesis, and defense responses. The up-regulated expression of plastid fibrillin may have contributed to the marked accumulation of jasmonates only in stressed C. sinense, while ferredoxin-NADP reductase up-regulation was only found in C. tracyanum which possibly related to the stimulation of cyclic electron flow that is linked with photoprotection. These physiological and proteomic performances suggest distinct adaptive strategies to drought stress between C. sinense (remedy strategy) and C. tracyanum (precaution strategy). Our findings may help improve our understanding about the ecological adaptation of epiphytic orchids.


Drought adaption Proteomic analysis Orchid Epiphyte Terrestrial species 



Net photosynthesis


Stomatal conductance


Midday leaf water content


Maximum quantum yield of PSII after dark adaptation overnight


Maximum photo-oxidizable P700


Cyclic electron flow




Abscisic acid



This work is financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31370362, 31670342), and National Key Project of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2015BAD10B03).

Supplementary material

425_2017_2768_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)
425_2017_2768_MOESM2_ESM.docx (526 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 526 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jia-Wei Li
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Xiao-Dong Chen
    • 5
  • Xiang-Yang Hu
    • 3
  • Lan Ma
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shi-Bao Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory for Economic Plants and Biotechnology, Kunming Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesKunmingChina
  2. 2.Yunnan Key Laboratory for Wild Plant ResourcesKunmingChina
  3. 3.College of Life ScienceShanghai UniversityShanghaiChina
  4. 4.College of Life ScienceUniversity of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.School of Environmental and Biological EngineeringNanjing University of Science and TechnologyNanjingChina

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