Identifying a potential crop wild relative (CWR) of legumes, especially one with high abiotic stress tolerance, has been a priority of plant breeders for many decades. Traditionally CWRs have been selected based on biometrical traits observed in the field, however this methodology is insufficient for research into nonmorphological traits such as stress tolerance. Biochemical and molecular analysis of potential CWRs allows for more informed selection. Specifically, we focus on Cicer microphyllum Benth, a CWR of cultivated chickpea Cicer arietinum L., which is distributed in Trans Himalayan ranges adjacent to glaciers of India and Pakistan at the alpine altitude gradient between 2700 to 6000 m. The objective of this study is to begin characterization of the biochemical and molecular bases of adaptation of C. microphyllum to cold stress and compare it to its cultivated relative (Cold susceptible genotype ILC533). Significant differences were recorded in terms of malondialdehyde (MDA) concentration, electrolyte leakage and proline accumulation in C. microphyllum, as compared to C. arietinum, upon cold exposure (4°C/24h). C. microphyllum exhibits more membrane stability under cold stress. Furthermore, proline overaccumulation and an increase in the enzymatic activities of antioxidants including superoxide dismutase, catalase, and ascorbate peroxidase were also observed in C. microphyllum under cold stress treatment. Expression of pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthetase, chalcone reductase, flavonoid 3',5'-hydroxylase and flavonoid 3'-monooxygenase are all upregulated under cold treatment in C. microphyllum. The characteristics recommend C. microphyllum both as a model for plant response to cold stress and as a potential source for abiotic stress resistant germplasm for chickpea breeding programs.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENT The authors are grateful to Defence R&D Organisation HQ, Ministry of Defence, Govt. of India for providing necessary facilities and the financial assistance. DIHAR, Leh is duly acknowledged for providing logistic support during collection of seeds of C. microphyllum. CITAB, UMINHO is duly acknowledged for library facility and literature survey during preparation of manuscript.
- Cicer arietinum
- Cicer microphyllum
- anti-oxidant enzymes
- cold treatment