Drought Effects on Proanthocyanidins in Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.) Are Dependent on the Plant's Ontogenetic Stage

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Carsten S MalischAndreas Lüscher


Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.) is a forage legume, which improves animal health and the environmental impact of livestock farming due to its proanthocyanidin content. To identify the impact of drought on acetone/water-extractable proanthocyanidin (PA) concentration and composition in the generative and vegetative stages, a rain exclosure experiment was established. Leaves of 120 plants from 5 different sainfoin accessions were sampled repeatedly and analyzed by UPLC-ESI-MS/MS. The results showed distinct differences in response to drought between vegetative and generative plants. Whereas vegetative plants showed a strong response to drought in growth (-56%) and leaf PA concentration (+46%), generative plants showed no response in growth (-2%) or PA concentration (-9%). The PA composition was stable across environments. The five accessions varied in PA concentrations and composition but showed the same pattern of response to the experimental treatments. These results show that the ontogenetic stage at which drought occurs significantly affects the plant's response.


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