Manganese stabilizing protein (MSP) is an important component of the Photosystem II (PSII) oxygen evolving complex. In our previous work, transgenic potato plants with reduced expression of MSP (MSP-As) were developed and their physiological and biochemical responses were studied. In this report, we address the response of MSP-As plants toward salinity, heavy metal and osmotic stresses. MSP-As plants treated with NaCl, ZnCl(2) or mannitol solution showed significant level of tolerance under all the stress conditions. Specific enzyme activities of major ROS-scavenging enzymes were found significantly higher in MSP-As plants than the control plants. MSP-As plants accumulated increased levels of proline and low molecular weight metabolites such as ascorbate and α-tocopherol, which indicated that these plants were much more resistant to stress compared to the corresponding control plants. The primary photochemical efficiencies and the OJIP kinetics analyses further confirmed that MSP-As plants were in better optimal health under stress compared to the control plants. Although the exact reason behind the increased stress tolerance in stressed MSP-As plants is unclear, our results strongly indicate the role of MSP of unknown function in abiotic stress tolerance.
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