O'Donnell, Natalie H.3; Møller, Birger Lindberg4; Neale, Alan D.3; Hamill, John D.3; Blomstedt, Cecilia K.3; Gleadow, Roslyn M.3
1 Section for Plant Biochemistry, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 Monash University3 Monash University4 Section for Plant Biochemistry, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) is a valuable forage crop in regions with low soil moisture. Sorghum may accumulate high concentrations of the cyanogenic glucoside dhurrin when drought stressed resulting in possible cyanide (HCN) intoxication of grazing animals. In addition, high concentrations of nitrate, also potentially toxic to ruminants, may accumulate during or shortly after periods of drought. Little is known about the degree and duration of drought-stress required to induce dhurrin accumulation, or how changes in dhurrin concentration are influenced by plant size or nitrate metabolism. Given that finely regulating soil moisture under controlled conditions is notoriously difficult, we exposed sorghum plants to varying degrees of osmotic stress by growing them for different lengths of time in hydroponic solutions containing polyethylene glycol (PEG). Plants grown in medium containing 20% PEG (−0.5 MPa) for an extended period had significantly higher concentrations of dhurrin in their shoots but lower dhurrin concentrations in their roots. The total amount of dhurrin in the shoots of plants from the various treatments was not significantly different on a per mass basis, although a greater proportion of shoot N was allocated to dhurrin. Following transfer from medium containing 20% PEG to medium lacking PEG, shoot dhurrin concentrations decreased but nitrate concentrations increased to levels potentially toxic to grazing ruminants. This response is likely due to the resumption of plant growth and root activity, increasing the rate of nitrate uptake. Data presented in this article support a role for cyanogenic glucosides in mitigating oxidative stress.
Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, 2013, Vol 73, p. 83-92