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Open AccessArticle

Dissecting Adaptation Mechanisms to Contrasting Solar Irradiance in the Mediterranean Shrub Cistus incanus

1
Institute for Sustainable Plant Protection (IPSP), The National Research Council of Italy (CNR), 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (Florence), Italy
2
Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry, University of Florence, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (Florence), Italy
3
Institute of BioEconomy, The National Research Council of Italy (CNR), 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (Florence), Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(14), 3599; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20143599
Received: 7 May 2019 / Revised: 8 July 2019 / Accepted: 16 July 2019 / Published: 23 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Molecular Plant Sciences)
Molecular mechanisms that are the base of the strategies adopted by Mediterranean plants to cope with the challenges imposed by limited or excessive solar radiation during the summer season have received limited attention. In our study, conducted on C. incanus plants growing in the shade or in full sunlight, we performed measurements of relevant physiological traits, such as leaf water potential, gas exchange and PSII photochemistry, RNA-Seq with de-novo assembly, and the analysis of differentially expressed genes. We also identified and quantified photosynthetic pigments, abscisic acid, and flavonoids. Here, we show major mechanisms regulating light perception and signaling which, in turn, sustain the shade avoidance syndrome displayed by the ‘sun loving’ C. incanus. We offer clear evidence of the detrimental effects of excessive light on both the assembly and the stability of PSII, and the activation of a suite of both repair and effective antioxidant mechanisms in sun-adapted leaves. For instance, our study supports the view of major antioxidant functions of zeaxanthin in sunny plants concomitantly challenged by severe drought stress. Finally, our study confirms the multiple functions served by flavonoids, both flavonols and flavanols, in the adaptive mechanisms of plants to the environmental pressures associated to Mediterranean climate. View Full-Text
Keywords: excess solar irradiance; flavonoids; Mediterranean climate; photosynthesis; PSII functionality; transcriptomics; shade; violaxanthin cycle pigments; water relations excess solar irradiance; flavonoids; Mediterranean climate; photosynthesis; PSII functionality; transcriptomics; shade; violaxanthin cycle pigments; water relations
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Sebastiani, F.; Torre, S.; Gori, A.; Brunetti, C.; Centritto, M.; Ferrini, F.; Tattini, M. Dissecting Adaptation Mechanisms to Contrasting Solar Irradiance in the Mediterranean Shrub Cistus incanus. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 3599.

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