DOI: 10.3390/ijms25010530 ISSN: 1422-0067

Aluminum Supplementation Mediates the Changes in Tea Plant Growth and Metabolism in Response to Calcium Stress

Hua Zhang, Yakang Song, Zhenglei Fan, Jianyun Ruan, Jianhui Hu, Qunfeng Zhang
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Spectroscopy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine
  • Catalysis

Tea plants are more sensitive to variations in calcium concentration compared to other plants, whereas a moderate aluminum concentration facilitates the growth and development of tea plants. Aluminum and calcium show a competitive interaction with respect to the uptake of elements, consequently exerting physiological effects on plants. To further explore these interactions, in this study, we used the solution culture method to treat tea plants with two calcium concentrations (0.8 mM and 5.6 mM) and three aluminum concentrations (0 mM, 0.4 mM, and 1 mM). We then determined the influence of the combined treatments on root growth and quality compound accumulation in the tissues by a combination of phenotype, gene expression, and metabolite analyses. Moderate aluminum supplementation (0.4 mM) alleviated the inhibition of root growth caused by high calcium stress. High calcium stress significantly inhibited the accumulation of most amino acids (e.g., Glutamic acid, Citulline, and Arginine) and organic acids (e.g., a-ketoglutaric acid) in the roots, stems, and leaves, whereas aluminum deficiency significantly increased most amino acids in the roots and leaves (except Serine, Alanine, and Phenylalanine in the roots and Ser in the leaves), with a more than two-fold increase in Arg and Lysine. High calcium stress also induced the accumulation of secondary metabolites such as epigallocatechin gallate and procyanidin in the roots, whereas aluminum supplementation significantly reduced the contents of flavonol glycosides such as quercetin, rutin, myricitrin, and kaempferitrin, as well as caffeine, regardless of calcium concentration. Aluminum supplementation reversed some of the changes in the contents of leaf metabolites induced by calcium stress (e.g., 4-dihydroquercetin, apigenin C-pentoside, phenethylamine, and caffeine). Overall, calcium stress caused severe growth inhibition and metabolic disorders in tea plants, which could be reversed by aluminum supplementation, particularly in maintaining the root tips and the accumulation of secondary metabolites. These results provide a theoretical basis for improving calcium-aluminum nutrient management to promote tea plant growth and quality.

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