Salicornia and Sarcocornia are almost identical halophytes whose edible succulent shoots hold promise for commercial production in saline water. Enhanced sulfur nutrition may be beneficial to crops naturally grown on high sulfate. However, little is known about sulfate nutrition in halophytes. Here we show that Salicornia europaea (ecotype RN) exhibits a significant increase in biomass and organic-S accumulation in response to supplemental sulfate, while Sarcocornia fruticosa (ecotype VM) does not, instead exhibiting increased sulfate accumulation. We investigated the role of two pathways on organic-S and biomass accumulation in Salicornia and Sarcoconia: the sulfate reductive pathway that generates cysteine and L-cysteine desulfhydrase that degrades cysteine to H2S, NH3 and pyruvate. The major function of O-acetylserine-(thiol) lyase (OAS-TL; EC 18.104.22.168) is the formation of L-cysteine, but our study shows that the OAS-TL A and B of both halophytes are enzymes that also degrade L-cysteine to H2S. This activity was significantly higher in Sarcocornia than in Salicornia, especially upon sulfate supplementation. The activity of the sulfate reductive pathway key enzyme, adenosine 5'-phosphosulfate reductase (APR, EC 22.214.171.124), was significantly higher in Salicornia than in Sarcocornia. These results suggest that the low organic-S level in Sarcocornia is the result of high L-cysteine degradation rate by OAS-TLs, whereas, the greater organic-S and biomass accumulation in Salicornia is the result of higher APR activity and low L-cysteine degradation rate, resulting in higher net cysteine biosynthesis. These results present an initial road map for halophyte growers to attain better growth rates and nutritional value of Salicornia and Sarcocornia.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank Dr. Dominic Standing and Ms.Talya Samani for their technical support and Prof. S. Kopriva (University of Cologne, Köln) for providing OAS-TL A and B antibodies.