Meeting Abstract

P1.29  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Effects of acid rain on parsley phytoestrogen content and development. EDWARDS, Thea M.*; MORGAN, Howard E.; Louisiana Tech University; Louisiana Tech University tedwards@latech.edu

Phytoestrogens are a diverse group of small molecules made by plants to ward off disease and pests, attract symbionts and pollinators, and regulate growth and reproduction. As their name suggests, phytoestrogens are pharmaceutically interesting because they bind estrogen receptors or otherwise interact with estrogenic signaling cascades in animals. In fact, much more is known about the nutraceutical uses of phytoestrogens than their roles in plants. This study is part of a larger research program to understand how plants use phytoestrogens to regulate their own physiology, and to assess how phytoestrogen content changes in plants as they respond to environmental cues. We exposed parsley plants to simulated acid rain and control treatments (pH = 4.5, 5.6, 6.8) from germination through seed production to determine if environmental pH affects phytoestrogen content in parsley. Like soybeans and clover, we have previously shown that parsley stimulates a strong estrogenic response in a yeast reporter gene system expressing human ESR1 and ESR2. We report on developmental changes in estrogenicity of parsley across pH treatments. Acid rain is a significant global environmental concern. We use our findings to predict how the effects of acid rain on plants might be mediated by phytoestrogens.