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Abscisic acid prevents pollen abortion under high-temperature stress by mediating sugar metabolism in rice spikelets
Islam Md. Rezaul+, Feng Baohua+, Chen Tingting, Fu Weimeng, Zhang Caixia, Tao Longxing* and Fu Guanfu*
Physiologia Plantarum

Abstract

Heat stress at the pollen mother cell (PMC) meiotic stage leads to pollen sterility in rice, in which the reactive oxygen species (ROS) and sugar homeostasis are always adversely affected. This damage is reversed by abscisic acid (ABA), but the mechanisms underlying the interactions among the ABA, sugar metabolism, ROS and heat shock proteins in rice spikelets under heat stress are unclear. Two rice genotypes, Zhefu802 (a recurrent parent) and fgl (its near‐isogenic line) were subjected to heat stress of 40°C after pre‐foliage sprayed with ABA and its biosynthetic inhibitor fluridone at the meiotic stage of PMC. The results revealed that exogenous application of ABA reduced pollen sterility caused by heat stress. This was achieved through various means, including: increased levels of soluble sugars, starch and non‐structural carbohydrates, markedly higher relative expression levels of heat shock proteins (HSP24.1 and HSP71.1) and genes related to sugar metabolism and transport, such as sucrose transporters (SUT) genes, sucrose synthase (SUS) genes and invertase (INV) genes as well as increased antioxidant activities and increased content of adenosine triphosphate and endogenous ABA in spikelets. In short, exogenous application of ABA prior to heat stress enhanced sucrose transport and accelerated sucrose metabolism to maintain the carbon balance and energy homeostasis, thus ABA contributed to heat tolerance in rice.