The role of SORBITOL DEHYDROGENASE in Arabidopsis thaliana

Marta Nosarzewski, A. Bruce Downie, Benhong Wu, Douglas D. Archbold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


SORBITOL DEHYDROGENASE (SDH, EC catalyses the interconversion of polyols and ketoses (e.g. sorbitol ↔ fructose). Using two independent Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. sdh knockout mutants, we show that SDH (At5g51970) plays a primary role in sorbitol metabolism as well as an unexpected role in ribitol metabolism. Sorbitol content increased in both wild-type (WT) and mutant plant leaves during drought stress, but mutants showed a dramatically different phenotype, dying even if rewatered. The lack of functional SDH in mutant plants was accompanied by accumulation of foliar sorbitol and at least 10-fold more ribitol, neither of which decreased in mutant plants after rewatering. In addition, mutant plants were uniquely sensitive to ribitol in a concentration-dependent manner, which either prevented them from completing seed germination or inhibited seedling development, effects not observed with other polyols or with ribitol-treated WT plants. Ribitol catabolism may occur solely through SDH in A. thaliana, though at only 30% the rate of that for sorbitol. The results indicate a role for SDH in metabolism of sorbitol to fructose and in ribitol conversion to ribulose in A. thaliana during recovery from drought stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-470
Number of pages9
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012


  • carbohydrate metabolism
  • polyol metabolism
  • seed germination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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