Physiological and Molecular Responses of Six Apple Rootstocks to Osmotic Stress
The growth and productivity of several apple rootstocks have been evaluated in various previous studies. However, limited information is available on their tolerance to osmotic stress. In the present study, the physiological and molecular responses as well as abscisic acid (ABA) levels were assessed in six apple rootstocks (M26, V3, G41, G935, B9 and B118) osmotically stressed with polyethylene glycol (PEG, 30%) application under greenhouse conditions. Our results showed that V3, G41, G935 and B9 had higher relative water content (RWC), and lower electrolyte leakage (EL) under stress conditions compared to M26 and B118. Additionally, water use efficiency (WUE) was higher in V3, G41 and B9 than M26, which might be partially due to the lower transpiration rate in these tolerant rootstocks. V3, G41 and B9 rootstocks also displayed high endogenous ABA levels which was combined with a reduction in stomatal conductance and decreased water loss. At the transcriptional level, genes involved in ABA-dependent and ABA-independent pathways, e.g., SnRK, DREB, ERD and MYC2, showed higher expression in V3, G41, G935 and B9 rootstocks compared to M26 in response to stress. In contrast, WRKY29 was down-regulated in response to stress in the tolerant rootstocks, and its expression was negatively correlated with ABA content and stomatal closure. Overall, the findings of this study showed that B9, V3 and G41 displayed better osmotic stress tolerance followed by G935 then M26 and B118 rootstocks.