Mechanistic Insights on Salicylic Acid-Induced Enhancement of Photosystem II Function in Basil Plants under Non-Stress or Mild Drought Stress

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Sperdouli I., Panteris E., Moustaka J., Aydın T., Bayçu G., Moustakas M.

International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol.25, no.11, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 25 Issue: 11
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/ijms25115728
  • Journal Name: International Journal of Molecular Sciences
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: chlorophyll fluorescence imaging, chloroplast ultrastructure, electron transport rate, non-photochemical quenching, photoprotective heat dissipation, plastoquinone pool
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


Photosystem II (PSII) functions were investigated in basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) plants sprayed with 1 mM salicylic acid (SA) under non-stress (NS) or mild drought-stress (MiDS) conditions. Under MiDS, SA-sprayed leaves retained significantly higher (+36%) chlorophyll content compared to NS, SA-sprayed leaves. PSII efficiency in SA-sprayed leaves under NS conditions, evaluated at both low light (LL, 200 μmol photons m−2 s−1) and high light (HL, 900 μmol photons m−2 s−1), increased significantly with a parallel significant decrease in the excitation pressure at PSII (1-qL) and the excess excitation energy (EXC). This enhancement of PSII efficiency under NS conditions was induced by the mechanism of non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) that reduced singlet oxygen (1O2) production, as indicated by the reduced quantum yield of non-regulated energy loss in PSII (ΦNO). Under MiDS, the thylakoid structure of water-sprayed leaves appeared slightly dilated, and the efficiency of PSII declined, compared to NS conditions. In contrast, the thylakoid structure of SA-sprayed leaves did not change under MiDS, while PSII functionality was retained, similar to NS plants at HL. This was due to the photoprotective heat dissipation by NPQ, which was sufficient to retain the same percentage of open PSII reaction centers (qp), as in NS conditions and HL. We suggest that the redox status of the plastoquinone pool (qp) under MiDS and HL initiated the acclimation response to MiDS in SA-sprayed leaves, which retained the same electron transport rate (ETR) with control plants. Foliar spray of SA could be considered as a method to improve PSII efficiency in basil plants under NS conditions, at both LL and HL, while under MiDS and HL conditions, basil plants could retain PSII efficiency similar to control plants.