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Water stress induces overexpression of superoxide dismutases that contribute to the protection of cowpea plants against oxidative stress

YC Brou
A Zézé
O Diouf
M Eyletters


Water stress is known to induce active oxygen species in plants. The accumulation of these harmful species must be prevented by plants as rapidly as possible to maintain growth and productivity. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of water stress on superoxide dismutase isozymes (SOD, EC in two cowpea cultivars [Vigna unguiculata L. Walp., cv. Bambey 21 (B21) and cv. TN88-
63]. Plants were submitted to water stress by withholding water supply and the expression of SOD was characterized during stress induction. In the same time, photosynthesis characteristics were determined
through the measurement of the quantum yield of PS II photochemistry and the energy absorption rate per reaction centre. Results show how water stress regulates the synthesis and the activity of superoxide dismutase isoforms and how these enzymes contribute to protect photosynthesis against the damageable effects of superoxide radicals in cowpea. Increased MnSOD and FeSOD activity and concentration were shown to be induced by water stress and associated with protection of photosystem II photochemistry and whole plant growth against oxidative stress in these plants. On the contrary, plants unable to express high MnSOD and/or FeSOD isoforms showed more sensitivity to water stress.