Differential protein abundance of vetiver grass in response to acid mine drainage

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Department of Biological Sciences


Acid mine drainage (AMD) is an acidic and metalliferous discharge that imposes oxidative stress on living things through bioaccumulation and physical exposure. The abandoned Tab-Simco mining site of Southern Illinois generates highly acidic AMD with elevated sulfate (SO42−) and various metals. Vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides) is effective for the remediation of Tab-Simco AMD at both mesocosm and microcosm levels over extended periods. In this study, we conducted a proteomic investigation of vetiver shoots under short and long-term exposure to AMD. Our objective was to decipher the physiological responses of vetiver to the combined abiotic stresses of AMD (metal and low pH). Differential regulation was observed for longer-term (56 days) exposure to AMD, which resulted in 17 upregulated and nine downregulated proteins, whereas shorter-term (7 days) exposure led to 14 upregulated and 14 downregulated proteins. There were significant changes to photosynthesis, including upregulation of electron transport chain proteins for light-dependent reactions after 56 days, whereas differential regulation of enzymes relating to C4 carbon fixation was observed after 7 days. Significant changes in amino acid and nitrogen metabolism, including upregulation of ethylene and flavonoid biosynthesis, along with plant response to nitrogen starvation, were observed. Short-term changes also included upregulation of glutathione reductase and methionine sulfoxide reductase, whereas longer-term changes included changes in protein misfolding and ER-associated protein degradation for stress management and acclimation.

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Physiologia Plantarum