Comparison of thylakoid structure and organization in sun and shade Haberlea rhodopensis populations under desiccation and rehydration.

Research paper by Eva E Sárvári, Gergana G Mihailova, Adám A Solti, Aron A Keresztes, Maya M Velitchkova, Katya K Georgieva

Indexed on: 26 Aug '14Published on: 26 Aug '14Published in: Journal of Plant Physiology


The resurrection plant, Haberlea rhodopensis can survive nearly total desiccation only in its usual low irradiation environment. However, populations with similar capacity to recover were discovered recently in several sunny habitats. To reveal what kind of morphological, structural and thylakoid-level alterations play a role in the acclimation of this low-light adapted species to high-light environment and how do they contribute to the desiccation tolerance mechanisms, the structure of the photosynthetic apparatus, the most sensitive component of the chlorophyll-retaining resurrection plants, was analyzed by transmission electron microscopy, steady state low-temperature fluorescence and two-dimensional Blue-Native/SDS PAGE under desiccation and rehydration. In contrast to the great differences in the morphology of plants, the ultrastructure and the organization of thylakoids were surprisingly similar in well-hydrated shade and sun populations. A high ratio of photosystem (PS)I binding light harvesting complex (LHC)II, important in low- and fluctuating light environment, was characteristic to both shade and sun plant, and the ratios of the main chlorophyll-protein complexes were also similar. The intensive protective mechanisms, such as shading by steep leaf angle and accumulation of protective substances, probably reduced the light intensity at the chloroplast level. The significantly increased ratio of monomer to oligomer antennae in well-hydrated sun plants may be connected with the temporary high light exposure of chloroplasts. During desiccation, LHCII was removed from PSI and part of PSII supercomplexes disassembled with some loss of PSII core and LHCII. The different reorganization of antennae, possibly connected with different quenching mechanisms, involved an increased amount of monomers in shade plants but unchanged proportion of oligomers in sun plants. Desiccation-induced responses were more pronounced in sun plants which also had a greater capacity to recover due to their stress-acclimated attitude.