Journal of Plant Growth Regulation

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 669–682 | Cite as

Exogenous 24-Epibrassinolide Alleviates Effects of Salt Stress on Chloroplasts and Photosynthesis in Robinia pseudoacacia L. Seedlings

  • Jianmin Yue
  • Yanhuang You
  • Liang Zhang
  • Zhiyuan Fu
  • Jinping Wang
  • Jinchi ZhangEmail author
  • Robert D. GuyEmail author


The brassinosteroids (BRs) constitute a recently defined class of plant hormone that can enhance the resistance of plants to multiple stresses. However, the effects of BRs on salt-stressed woody plants, notably on photosynthesis and chloroplast ultrastructure, have received little attention. Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.) seeds and seedlings were pretreated with 1.04 µmol L− 1 24-epibrassinolide (24-epiBL) by soaking and root dipping, respectively, and grown under non-saline or saline conditions (0, 100, 200 mmol L− 1 NaCl). Salinity stress decreased photosynthesis, chlorophyll concentration, transpiration, and stomatal conductance but also decreased the water-use efficiency, while chlorophyll fluorescence indicated a decrease in photochemical quenching and in maximum potential quantum efficiency. Indicators of oxidative stress (for example, H2O2 and antioxidant enzymes), membrane leakage, and amounts of Na+ ions in leaves and chloroplasts were increased and, at the highest stress, chloroplast ultrastructure was severely disrupted. Exogenous 24-epiBL improved membrane stability and reduced foliar Na+ levels, while substantially alleviating stress-induced changes in photosynthetic gas exchange. Improvements in chlorophyll content and indicators of oxidative stress were not as large but were still highly significant. Thylakoid membrane structure was protected. Both methods of applying 24-epiBL were effective, but root-dipped seedlings performed marginally better. The results suggest that treatment of black locust seedlings with 24-epiBL prior to planting may improve performance and aid establishment on salt-affected soils.


24-epiBL Salt stress Chloroplast Photosynthesis Ultrastructure 



We would like to thank Fangyuan Yu and Dawei Shi for their constructive suggestions on experimental design. Financial support for this study was provided by the National Special Fund for Forestry Scientific Research in the Public Interest (Grant No. 201504406), the New Project for Forestry Research of Jiangsu Province, China (Grant No. LY-SX[2014]05), Science and Technology Project of Jiangsu Province, China (Grant No. BE2012344), Major Projects of Natural Science Research in Universities in Jiangsu Province, China (Grant No. 15KJA220004), the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD), and the Doctorate Fellowship Foundation of Nanjing Forestry University.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Co-Innovation Center for Sustainable Forestry in Southern China of Jiangsu Province, Key Laboratory of Soil and Water Conservation and Ecological RestorationNanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, Faculty of ForestryUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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