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Growth and photosynthetic characteristics, inducibility of the CAM pathway and the functioning of the antioxidant defense system were investigated in Rosularia elymaitica (Crassulaceae) under drought and UV stresses. Drought did not substantially affect the growth of the plants, but it significantly reduced leaf thickness as well as osmotic potential, water potential and relative water content. In contrast, UV radiation treatment affected neither growth nor the water relations of leaves. Water limitation for 12 days caused a significant increase in nighttime PEPC and NAD-MDH activity and an increase in Δtitratable acidity relative to well-watered plants. The nighttime CO2 net assimilation rate increased significantly in drought-stressed plants but was still negative, resembling a C3-like pattern of gas exchange. Twenty days of UV treatment, increased Δtitratable acidity slightly and increased only daytime PEPC activity, and did not affect other parameters of carbon metabolism. As judged by maintenance of membrane integrity and stable amounts of H2O2 under UV stress, the antioxidant defense system effectively protected the plants against UV radiation. In contrast, oxidative stress occurred under severe drought stress (20 days of withholding water). Except for higher daytime APX activity in the UV-treated plants, enzyme activity in the control and in the drought- and UV-stressed plants did not show any diurnal fluctuation during 24 h. Temporal changes in Δtitratable acidity and ΔPEPC activity coincided closely with those of antioxidant enzymes; both started to increase after 12 days of drought stress. These results indicate that drought stress but not UV radiation induced the CAM-cycling pathway in R. elymaitica.
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