Abiotic Stress Effects on Physiological, Agronomic and Molecular Parameters of 1-MCP Treated Cotton Plants
Da Costa, Vladimir Azevedo
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Abiotic stresses impact cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) affecting physiological, molecular, morphological, and agronomic parameters. One of the main yield components in cotton production is the number of bolls per unit area. However, boll abortion is increased when cotton experiences various stresses during its reproductive development that can consequently reduce lint yield. Prior to abscission, a burst in ethylene is observed which may be assumed to be the signal necessary to initiate abscission of that particular structure. It is desirable to prevent fruit loss that may be induced by the peak in ethylene prior to abscission. One potential option to cope with the loss of cotton reproductive structures is the use of ethylene inhibitors. The overall objective of this research was to establish if 1-MCP would synergize, ameliorate, or overcome the effects of abiotic stresses on physiological, molecular, morphological, and agronomic parameters of cotton plants under abiotic stress conditions in field and greenhouse studies. Field and greenhouse experiments were conducted from 2007 to 2009 as a randomized complete block design with four replications in the field, and as a 2x2 factorial design in a split-block arrangement with five replications in the greenhouse. Field treatments consisted of three rates of 1-MCP (0, 25 and 50 g a.i. ha-1) in combination with a surfactant applied at mid-bloom. One day later, ethephon (synthetic ethylene) was applied as a source of abiotic stress. Greenhouse treatments were two 1-MCP rates (0 and 2.4 g a.i. L-1) during a14-h overnight incubation that were then subjected to two water regimes (control and stressed) as the source of stress. Greenhouse assessments with gas exchange analysis revealed that water deficit stress started to impact plants at a moderate water stress, 5 days after 1-MCP treatment (DAT) and a water potential (?w) of -1.4 MPa. The 1-MCP increased water use efficiency in well-watered plants at 1 DAT. Many of the yield components, plant mapping, and biomass parameters investigated were detrimentally affected by drought. However, drought increased specific leaf weight, chlorophyll content, and harvest index. The 1- MCP improved reproductive node numbers mainly during drought, but did not lead to a better harvest index, since 1-MCP caused high abscission. Ethylene synthesis and molecular investigations in greenhouse conditions showed that at 1, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13 DAT, ethylene production of stressed plants never exceeded those of control plants. As the ?w became more negative ethylene production rate was reduced among stressed plants independent of 1-MCP treatments. However, at 1 DAT 1-MCP caused a transient climacteric stage (ethylene synthesis increase) in leaves. The two primary genes associated with ethylene synthesis, ACS6 (1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid synthase) and ACO2 (1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid oxidase) expression generally showed an identical trend that supported the ethylene synthesis data. The 1-MCP did not ameliorate any of the detrimental effects of water stress on gas exchange at the point where it started to impact cotton plants. 1-MCP had little or no positive effect on plant mapping, dry matter partitioning and chlorophyll content. Field investigations revealed that at harvest, fruit set in the upper portion of the canopy was influenced by 1- MCP. This portion of the canopy had a greater number of full size, yet immature bolls, which potentially could have had a positive influence on the lint yield. However, ethephon caused the highest lint yield since ethephon treated plants had more open bolls and total bolls in the lower canopy at harvest.