Effects of boron deficiency on major metabolites, key enzymes and gas exchange in leaves and roots of Citrus sinensis seedlings.
Boron (B) deficiency is a widespread problem in many crops, including Citrus. The effects of B-deficiency on gas exchange, carbohydrates, organic acids, amino acids, total soluble proteins and phenolics, and the activities of key enzymes involved in organic acid and amino acid metabolism in 'Xuegan' [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] leaves and roots were investigated. Boron-deficient leaves displayed excessive accumulation of nonstructural carbohydrates and much lower CO2 assimilation, demonstrating feedback inhibition of photosynthesis. Dark respiration, concentrations of most organic acids [i.e., malate, citrate, oxaloacetate (OAA), pyruvate and phosphoenolpyruvate] and activities of enzymes [i.e., phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC), NAD-malate dehydrogenase, NAD-malic enzyme (NAD-ME), NADP-ME, pyruvate kinase (PK), phosphoenolpyruvate phosphatase (PEPP), citrate synthase (CS), aconitase (ACO), NADP-isocitrate dehydrogenase (NADP-IDH) and hexokinase] involved in glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and the anapleurotic reaction were higher in B-deficient leaves than in controls. Also, total free amino acid (TFAA) concentration and related enzyme [i.e., NADH-dependent glutamate 2-oxoglutarate aminotransferase (NADH-GOGAT) and glutamate OAA transaminase (GOT)] activities were enhanced in B-deficient leaves. By contrast, respiration, concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates and three organic acids (malate, citrate and pyruvate), and activities of most enzymes [i.e., PEPC, NADP-ME, PK, PEPP, CS, ACO, NAD-isocitrate dehydrogenase, NADP-IDH and hexokinase] involved in glycolysis, the TCA cycle and the anapleurotic reaction, as well as concentration of TFAA and activities of related enzymes (i.e., nitrate reductase, NADH-GOGAT, glutamate pyruvate transaminase and glutamine synthetase) were lower in B-deficient roots than in controls. Interestingly, leaf and root concentration of total phenolics increased, whereas that of total soluble protein decreased, in response to B-deficiency. In conclusion, respiration, organic acid (i.e., glycolysis and the TCA cycle) metabolism, the anapleurotic pathway and amino acid biosynthesis were upregulated in B-deficient leaves with excessive accumulation of carbohydrates to 'consume' the excessive carbon available, but downregulated in B-deficient roots with less accumulation of carbohydrates to maintain the net carbon balance.