Physiologia plantarum

Sterol glycosyltransferases required for adaptation of Withania somnifera at high temperature.

PMID 28299798


Heat is a major environmental stress factor that confines growth, productivity, and metabolism of plants. Plants respond to such unfavorable conditions through changes in their physiological, biochemical and developmental processes. Withania somnifera, an important medicinal plant, grows in hot and dry conditions, however, molecular mechanisms related to such adaptive properties are not known. Here, we elucidated that members of the sterol glycosyltransferases (SGT) gene family play important roles in the survival of W. somnifera under adverse conditions through maintaining the integrity of the membrane. SGTs are enzymes involved in sterol modifications and participate in metabolic flexibility during stress. Silencing of WsSGT members, for instance WsSGTL1, WsSGTL2 and WsSGTL4, was inimical for important physiological parameters, such as electron transport rate, photochemical quantum yield, acceptor side limitation, non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), Fv/Fm and net photosynthetic rate, whereas stomatal conductance, transpiration rate and dark respiration rates (Rds) were increased. Decreased NPQ and increased Rds helped to generate significant amount of ROS in the Wsamisgt lines. After heat stress, H2 O2 , lipid peroxidation and nitric oxide production increased in the Wsamisgt lines due to high ROS generation. The expression of HSPs in Wsamisgt lines might be involved in regulation of physiological processes during stress. We have also observed increased proline accumulation which might be involved in restricting water loss in the Wsamisgt lines. Taken together, our observations revealed that SGTL enzyme activity is required to maintain the internal damages of the cell against high temperature by maintaining the sterol vs sterol glycosides ratio in the membranes of W. somnifera.

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DAF-FM DA, ≥98% (HPLC)