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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2021, Vol. 20 Issue (11): 2932-2943    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(20)63472-4
Special Issue: 园艺-栽培生理/资源品质合辑Horticulture — Physiology · Biochemistry · Cultivation
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Potassium deficiency inhibits steviol glycosides synthesis by limiting leaf sugar metabolism in stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) plants
SUN Yu-ming1, HUANG Xiao-lei2, ZHANG Ting1, YANG Yong-heng1, CHENG Xiao-fang3, XU Xiao-yang1, YUAN Hai-yan1
1 Jiangsu Key Laboratory for the Research and Utilization of Plant Resources/The Jiangsu Provincial Platform for Conservation and Utilization of Agricultural Germplasm, Institute of Botany, Jiangsu Province and Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210014, P.R.China
2 College of Resources and Environment, Shanxi Agricultural University, Taigu 030801, P.R.China
3 College of Arts and Sciences, Shanxi Agricultural University, Taigu 030801, P.R.China
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The steviol glycosides (SGs) in stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) leaves are becoming increasingly valuable due to its high sweetness but low calorific value, which is driving the development of stevia commercial cultivation.  Optimizing fertilization management can effectively increase SGs productivity, but knowledge on the relationship between potassium (K) fertilization and SGs production is still lacking.  In this study, pot experiments were conducted in order to investigate the effect of K deficiency on SGs synthesis in stevia leaves, as well as the underlying mechanisms.  Our results showed that when compared with standard K fertilization, K deficiency treatment has no significant effect on the biomass of stevia plant grown in a given soil with high K contents.  However, K deficiency critically decreased leaf SGs contents as well as the expression of SGs synthesis-related genes.  The contents of different sugar components decreased and the activities of sugar metabolism-related enzymes were inhibited under the K deficiency condition.  Moreover, spraying sucrose on the leaves of stevia seedlings diminished the inhibitory effect caused by K deficiency.  Our results also revealed the significant positive correlations between sucrose, glucose and SGs contents.  Overall, our results suggest that K deficiency would suppress the synthesis of SGs in stevia leaves, and this effect may be mediated by the leaf sugar metabolism.  Our findings provide new insights into the improvement of SGs production potential. 
Keywords:  Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni        steviol glycosides        potassium deficiency        sugar metabolism  
Received: 27 April 2020   Accepted:
Fund: This work was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province, China (BK20180312), the Jiangsu Key Laboratory for the Research and Utilization of Plant Resources, China (JSPKLB201810) and the Natural Science Foundation of Shanxi Province, China (201901D111230).
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence XU Xiao-yang, E-mail:; YUAN Hai-yan, E-mail:   
About author:  SUN Yu-ming, E-mail:;

Cite this article: 

SUN Yu-ming, HUANG Xiao-lei, ZHANG Ting, YANG Yong-heng, CHENG Xiao-fang, XU Xiao-yang, YUAN Hai-yan. 2021. Potassium deficiency inhibits steviol glycosides synthesis by limiting leaf sugar metabolism in stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) plants. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 20(11): 2932-2943.

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