College of Environment, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou 310014, PR China; Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, PR China. Electronic address: [Email]
The enantioselective effects of imazethapyr (IM) enantiomers on wheat seedlings in a hydroponic medium were studied. R-IM at 0.05mg/L exerted a stronger inhibitory effect on shoot weight and root weight than 0.05mg/L S-IM, suggesting that R-IM more severely inhibited growth. Oxidative damage, based on the anthocyanin content, malondialdehyde (MDA) content, antioxidant enzyme activities and transcript levels of antioxidant enzyme genes, were studied together with the cellular ultrastructure of wheat leaves. The anthocyanin and MDA contents in the R-IM treatment group were significantly increased compared with those in the control group, but no significant changes were observed in the S-IM treatment group. The antioxidant enzyme activities of CAT and SOD were inhibited by 0.32- and 0.73-fold, respectively, in the 14day R-IM treatment group compared to those in the control. However, the transcript levels of antioxidant enzyme genes, including CuZnSOD, POD and CAT, were downregulated in the 14day R-IM exposure group, but those of DHAR were not. The number and size of starch granules increased and chloroplast swelling was observed in wheat leaf cells after R-IM exposure, which showed that photosynthetic functions were potentially disturbed. These results directly or indirectly imply that R-IM exposure causes more oxidative stress and exerts a stronger negative effect on wheat than S-IM. A metabolomics approach revealed that the tricarboxylic acid cycle was heavily suppressed by R-IM treatment. Some amino acids (proline, threonine, lysine, valine) were increased by only the R-IM treatment, indicating the activation of antioxidant pathways. The decrease in a series of fatty acids implied that the cell membrane composition changed in response to R-IM. These results provide a deeper understanding of the enantioselective effects of IM enantiomers on the molecular and metabolic responses in wheat seedlings.