ACTA PHYSIOLOGIAE PLANTARUM, vol.40, no.8, 2018 (SCI-Expanded)
Leaf rolling observed in some crops such as maize, rice, wheat and sorghum is an indicator of decreased water status. Moderate leaf rolling not tightly or early increases the photosynthesis and grain yield of crop cultivars under environmental stresses. Moreover, the effects of exogenous abscisic acid (ABA) on stomatal conductance, water status and synthesis of osmotic compounds are a well-known issue in plants subjected to water deficit. However, it is not clear how the cross-talk of ABA with H2O2 and osmolyte compounds affects the leaf rolling mechanism. Regulation mechanism of leaf rolling by ABA has been first studied in maize seedlings under drought stress induced by polyethylene glycol 6000 (PEG 6000) in this study. ABA treatment under drought stress reduced hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) content and the degree of leaf rolling (%) while the treatment-induced ABA synthesis, osmolyte levels (proline, polyamine and total soluble sugars) and some antioxidant enzyme activities in comparison to the plants that were not treated with ABA. Furthermore, exogenous ABA up-regulated the expression levels of arginine decarboxylase (ADC) and pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthase (P5CS) genes and down-regulated polyamine oxidase (PAO), diamine oxidase (DAO) and proline dehydrogenase (ProDH) gene expressions. When endogenous ABA content was decreased by the treatment of fluoridone (FLU) that is an ABA inhibitor, leaf rolling degree (%), H2O2 content and antioxidant enzyme activities increased, but osmolyte levels, ADC and P5CS gene expressions decreased. Finally, the treatment of ABA to maize seedlings exposed to drought stress resulted in the stimulation of the antioxidant system, osmotic adjustment and reduction of leaf rolling. We concluded that ABA can be a signal compound cross-talking H2O2, proline and polyamines and thus involved in the leaf rolling mechanism by providing osmotic adjustment. The results of this study can be used to provide data for the molecular breeding of maize hybrids with high grain yield by means of moderately rolled leaves.