2016 Conference on Computational Modelling with COPASI
Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, 12th – 13th May, 2016

Plant metabolic modeling: the ascorbate-glutathione cycle in chloroplasts under light/dark conditions

Edelmira Valero1, Hermenegilda Macia1, Jose Manuel Villalba1, María Isabel Gonzalez-Sanchez1, Ramón Varón1

1 - University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

Keywords: Light/dark cycles, Ascorbate-glutathione cycle, Computer simulation, Oxidative stress, Reactive oxygen species, Chloroplast


Light/dark cycles are probably the most important environmental signals that regulate plant development. Light is essential for photosynthesis, but an excess, in combination with the unavoidable presence of atmospheric oxygen inside the chloroplast, leads to excessive reactive oxygen species production. Among the defense mechanisms that activate plants to cope with environmental stress situations, it is worth noting the ascorbate-glutathione cycle, a complex metabolic pathway in which a variety of photochemical, chemical and enzymatic steps are involved. We herein studied the dynamic behavior of this pathway under light/dark conditions and for several consecutive days. For this purpose, a mathematical model was developed with a variable electron source whose flux is directly proportional to the intensity of solar irradiance during the photoperiod, and which is continuously turned off at night and on again the next day. The model is defined by a nonlinear system of ordinary differential equations with an on/off time-dependent input, including a parameter to simulate the fact that the photoperiod length is not constant throughout the year, and which takes into account the particular experimental kinetics of each enzyme involved in the pathway. Unlike previous models, which have only provided steady-state solutions, the present model is able to simulate diurnal fluctuations in the metabolite concentrations, fluxes and enzymatic rates involved in the network. Numerical integration was performed with the help of the COPASI 4.7 software (Build 34) using a deterministic algorithm (LSODA) that is able to deal with stiff ODEs. The resulting ODE model (15 days) consists in 13 species and 67 global quantities (kinetic parameters, enzymatic rates and fluxes). The obtained results are broadly consistent with experimental observations and highlight the key role played by ascorbate recycling for plants to adapt to their surrounding environment. This approach provides a new strategy to in vivo studies to analyze plant defense mechanisms against oxidative stress induced by external changes, which can also be extrapolated to other complex metabolic pathways to constitute a useful tool to the scientific community in general.

Conference Program