Journal Article

Programmed Cell Death and Adaptation: Two Different Types of Abiotic Stress Response in a Unicellular Chlorophyte

Anna Zuppini, Caterina Gerotto and Barbara Baldan

in Plant and Cell Physiology

Published on behalf of Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists

Volume 51, issue 6, pages 884-895
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 0032-0781
Published online May 2010 | e-ISSN: 1471-9053 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pcp/pcq069
Programmed Cell Death and Adaptation: Two Different Types of Abiotic Stress Response in a Unicellular Chlorophyte

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Eukaryotic microalgae are highly suitable biological indicators of environmental changes because they are exposed to extreme seasonal fluctuations. The biochemical and molecular targets and regulators of key proteins involved in the stress response in microalgae have yet to be elucidated. This study presents morphological and biochemical evidence of programmed cell death (PCD) in a low temperature strain of Chlorella saccharophila induced by exposure to NaCl stress. Morphological characteristics of PCD, including cell shrinkage, detachment of the plasma membrane from the cell wall, nuclear condensation and DNA fragmentation, were observed. Additionally, a significant production of H2O2 and increase in caspase 3-like activity were detected. We demonstrated that singly applied environmental stresses such as warming or salt stress trigger a pathway of PCD. Intriguingly, the prior application of salt stress seems to reduce heat shock-induced cell death significantly, suggesting a combined effect which activates a defense mechanism in algal cells. These results suggest that C. saccharophila can undergo PCD under stress conditions, and that this PCD shares several features with metazoan PCD. Moreover, the simultaneous exposure of this unicellular chlorophyte to different abiotic stresses results in a tolerance mechanism.

Keywords: Chlorella saccharophila; Heat shock; Programmed cell death; Salt stress; Tolerance

Journal Article.  6359 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biochemistry ; Molecular and Cell Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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