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The level of glutathione (GSH) in plants is important in defence reactions against biotic and abiotic stresses and can place considerable demand of the sulphur assimilation pathway. Enzymes involved in sulphur assimilation and GSH metabolism are not evenly distributed between different subcellular compartments or between different cell types in leaves or roots; however, there is little information on the effect that such asymmetries have on the actual GSH concentration in each compartment or cell type. In the present study in situ labelling with monochlorobimane (MCB) in combination with confocal laser scanning microscopy was used to quantify GSH in each of the main cell types of poplar leaves from fluorescence of the GSB conjugate formed. Comparison of results from the in situ approach with total GSH levels measured in vitro by high-performance liquid chromatography suggested that only the cytosolic GSH pool was labelled using this approach. This suggests that an appropriate GST was not present within the chloroplasts to catalyse the conjugation reaction and that chloroplastic GSH does not rapidly exchange with the cytoplasmic pool under the conditions of the assay. Cytosolic GSH levels were between 0.2 and 0.3 mm for both photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic (epidermal) cell types in wild-type poplar leaves. Cytosolic levels increased by around two-fold in transgenic poplars over-expressing bacterial gamma-glutamylsynthetase (gamma-ECS) in the cytosol of all cell types, but there was no concomitant increase in the chloroplastic GSH pool.


Journal article


Plant Cell Environ

Publication Date





965 - 975