Background: Arsenic is an important contaminant of many arable soils worldwide, while silicon, one of the most abundant elements in the earth's crust, interacts with As in the context of plant metabolism. As toxicity results largely from its stimulation of reactive oxygen species, and it is believed that Si can mitigate this process through reduction of the level of oxidative stress. Experiments targeting the proteomic impact of exposure to As and Si have to date largely focused on analyses of root, shoot and seed of a range of mainly non-solanaceous species, thus it remains unclear whether oxidative stress is the most important manifestation of As toxicity in Solanum lycopersicum fruit which during ripening go through drastic physiological and molecular readjustments. The role of Si also needs to be re-evaluated. Results: A comparison was drawn between the proteomic responses to As and As+Si treatments of the fruit of two tomato cultivars (cvs. Aragon and Gladis) known to contrast for their ability to take up these elements and to translocate them into fruits. Treatments were applied at the beginning of the red ripening stage, and the fruit proteomes were captured after a 14 day period of exposure. For each cultivar, a set of differentially abundant fruit proteins (from non-treated and treated plants) were isolated by 2DGE and identified using mass spectrometry. In the fruit of cv. Aragon, the As treatment reprogrammed proteins largely involved in transcription regulation (growth- regulating factor 9-like), and cell structure (actin-51), while in the cv. Gladis, the majority of differentially expressed proteins were associated with protein ubiquitination and proteolysis (E3 ubiquitin protein, and hormones (1-aminocyclopropane 1-carboxylase). Conclusions: The present experiments were intended to establish whether Si supplementation can be used to reverse the proteomic disturbance induced by the As treatment; this reprogram was only partial and more effective in the fruit of cv. Gladis than in that of cv. Aragon. Proteins responsible for the protection of the fruits' quality in the face of As-induced stress were identified. Moreover, supplementation with Si seemed to limit to a degree the accumulation of As in the tomato fruit of cv. Aragon.
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