Exogenous spermidine maintains the chloroplast structure of cucumber seedlings and inhibits the degradation of photosynthetic protein complexes under high-temperature stress

  • Liwei Wang
  • Heng Zhou
  • Shirong Guo
  • Yahong An
  • Sheng Shu
  • Na Lu
  • Jin Sun
Original Article


Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus L.) are thermophilic horticulture crop but do not tolerate high temperature. The photosynthesis of cucumber under high temperature is highly susceptible to damage. To study the physiological mechanism of exogenous spermidine (Spd) on cucumber photosynthesis under heat stress, the sensitive cucumber cultivar ‘Jinchun no. 2’ was grown in substrate culture at a high temperature in an artificial climate box and treated with 1.0 mmol L−1 Spd under high-temperature stress (42/32 °C). The results showed that exogenous Spd alleviated the photosynthetic damage caused by heat shock, added the chlorophyll content and maintained the chloroplast structures relatively intact. Western blotting analysis showed that exogenous Spd inhibited the degradation of photosynthetic proteins, slowed the dissociation of the protein complexes, and maintained the stability of light-harvesting complexes (LHCs) in cucumber leaves under high-temperature stress. Twenty-two differentially expressed thylakoid membrane proteins involved in different photosynthetic processes were successfully authenticated by sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS)-urea-PAGE and Blue native-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (BN-PAGE). The results showed that exogenous Spd regulated the expression of photosynthetic and bursal somatic membrane proteins, which resulted in adaptive changes under high-temperature stress at the transcriptional and translational levels, inhibited the degradation of thylakoid membrane proteins in cucumber leaves, and maintained the stable structure of the thylakoid membrane. Collectively, these results suggested that exogenous Spd alleviated high temperature-induced photosynthesis damage by improving the expression and synthesis of thylakoid membrane proteins, mitigating the dissociation of LHCII–Chl and thylakoid membrane protein complexes and maintaining the integrity and functional stability of the photosynthetic organ structure.


Chloroplast ultrastructure Cucumis sativus L. High-temperature stress Spermidine Thylakoid membrane proteins 



Two-dimensional blue-native/SDS–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


Blue native-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


Coomassie Blue





Cyt b6/f

Cytochrome b6/f


Dry weight


Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid


Fresh weight


Grana lamellae


Light-harvesting complex II


Light-harvesting chlorophyll a/b binding protein


Light-harvesting complexes




Osmiophilic particles




Photosynthetic photon flux density


Photosystem I


Photosystem II


Polyvinylidene fluoride




Sodium dodecyl sulphate


Sodium dodecyl sulphate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


Starch granules







This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31471869, 31401919, and 31272209), the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PDPA), the China Agriculture Research System (CARS-25-C-03) and the Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education (20130097120015).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

11738_2018_2624_MOESM1_ESM.jpg (8.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (JPEG 8457 kb)


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Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liwei Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Heng Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shirong Guo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yahong An
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sheng Shu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Na Lu
    • 3
  • Jin Sun
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Southern Vegetable Crop Genetic Improvement in Ministry of Agriculture College of HorticultureNanjing Agriculture UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Jiangsu Province Engineering Laboratory for Modern Facility Agriculture Technology and EquipmentNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Center for Environment, Health and Field ScienceChiba UniversityKashiwaJapan

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