Date of Award

12-1-2016

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Plant Biology

First Advisor

Wood, Andrew

Abstract

Drought and water-deficit adversely affect plant productivity. Limited water is a multidimensional stress that induces a number of molecular, biochemical and physiological changes in affected plants. These changes include altered photosynthetic capacity, altered gas exchange and the accumulation of secondary compounds. Glycine max (L.) Merrill (soybean) is an important crop and drought is a major limitation to soybean yield world–wide. The objective of this study is to monitor the physiological and biochemical responses to water-deficit stress in seedlings of two G. max cultivars (i.e. Forrest and Essex). The responses measured are: 1) relative water content (RWC), 2) net photosynthesis, 3) stomatal conductance, 3) evaporation rate, 4) water use efficiency (WUE), 5) radiation use efficiency (RUE) and 6) trigonelline accumulation. Trigonelline is a secondary compound known to accumulate in soybean in response to salinity- and water-deficit-stress. 14 day-old seedlings of Forrest (cv.) and Essex (cv.) were grown on open benches in the SIUC greenhouse and water was withheld for six days (i.e.15-to-20 DAP). During the treatment, RWC declined in both cultivars—from 89 to 41% in Essex and 83 to 60% in Forrest. Concomitantly, net photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, evaporation rate, WUE and RUE also declined in both cultivars. As RWC declined, the amount of trigonelline increased in both cultivars—from 2.3 to 5.34 OD gFW-1 in Essex and 2.3 to 6.63 OD gFW-1 in Forrest. The data supports the idea that trigonelline may function as a compatible solute and that confirms the hypothesis that trigonelline is a biomarker for plant water status.

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