, Volume 249, Issue 4, pp 1017–1035 | Cite as

Transcriptional and metabolic changes in the desiccation tolerant plant Craterostigma plantagineum during recurrent exposures to dehydration

  • Xun Liu
  • Dinakar Challabathula
  • Wenli Quan
  • Dorothea BartelsEmail author
Original Article


Main conclusion

Multiple dehydration/rehydration treatments improve the adaptation of Craterostigma plantagineum to desiccation by accumulating stress-inducible transcripts, proteins and metabolites. These molecules serve as stress imprints or memory and can lead to increased stress tolerance.

It has been reported that repeated exposure to dehydration may generate stronger reactions during a subsequent dehydration treatment in plants. This stimulated us to address the question whether the desiccation tolerant resurrection plant Craterostigma plantagineum has a stress memory. The expression of four representative stress-related genes gradually increased during four repeated dehydration/rehydration treatments in C. plantagineum. These genes reflect a transcriptional memory and are trainable genes. In contrast, abundance of chlorophyll synthesis/degradation-related transcripts did not change during dehydration and remained at a similar level as in the untreated tissues during the recovery phase. During the four dehydration/rehydration treatments the level of ROS pathway-related transcripts, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, proline, and sucrose increased, whereas H2O2 content and electrolyte leakage decreased. Malondialdehyde (MDA) content did not change during the dehydration, which indicates a gain of stress tolerance. At the protein level, increased expression of four representative stress-related proteins showed that the activated stress memory can persist over several days. The phenomenon described here could be a general feature of dehydration stress memory responses in resurrection plants.


Dehydration stress Resurrection plants Stress memory Stress-related genes 



5-Aminolevulinic acid dehydratase


Ascorbate peroxidase


Butylated hydroxytoluene




Chlorophyll synthase


Mg-protoporphyrin IX methyltransferase


Coprogen oxidase


Copper/zinc superoxide dismutase


Early dehydration responsive 1


Elongation factor 1-alpha


Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry


Glutamate-1-semialdehyde aminotransferase


Late embryogenesis abundant




Manganese superoxide dismutase


4-Nitro-blue tetrazolium chloride


Non-yellowing 1


Optical density


Pheophorbide a oxygenase


Porphobilinogen deaminase




Red chlorophyll catabolite reductase


Reactive oxygen species


Relative water content


Superoxide dismutase


Thiobarbituric acid



Xun Liu is supported by the China Scholarship Council (2016-2020). Dinakar C acknowledges the support from the Indian National Science Academy (INSA-India) and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft-GZ:BA712/19-1 (DFG, Germany). The authors would like to thank Christiane Buchholz for growing the plants and Prof. Dr. Lukas Schreiber and Dr. Viktoria Zeisler-Diehl (IZMB, University of Bonn) for supporting the measurements of sucrose and octulose.

Supplementary material

425_2018_3058_MOESM1_ESM.jpg (2.7 mb)
Fig. S1 Thin layer chromatography of sugars extracted from C. plantagineum leaves
425_2018_3058_MOESM2_ESM.jpg (2.7 mb)
Fig. S2 (a) The chromatogram of sucrose (peak 3) and octulose (peak 2) extracted from C. plantagineum leaves, and the internal standard xylitol (peak 1). The fragmentation patterns of xylitol (b), octulose (c) and sucrose (d)
425_2018_3058_MOESM3_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xun Liu
    • 1
  • Dinakar Challabathula
    • 2
  • Wenli Quan
    • 3
  • Dorothea Bartels
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Molecular Physiology and Biotechnology of Plants (IMBIO)University of BonnBonnGermany
  2. 2.Department of Life Sciences, School of Basic and Applied SciencesCentral University of Tamil NaduThiruvarurIndia
  3. 3.Key Laboratory for Quality Control of Characteristic Fruits and Vegetables of Hubei Province, College of Life Science and TechnologyHubei Engineering UniversityXiaoganChina

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