Etiolated early seedlings of durum wheat submitted to moderate and severe salt (NaCl) and osmotic (mannitol) stress showed no relevant increase of both transcript levels of two plant uncoupling protein (pUCP)-related genes and maximal pUCP activity in purified mitochondria (which estimates protein level); contrarily, pUCP functioning due to endogenous free fatty acids strongly increased. These results show that pUCP activation under hyperosmotic stress may be due to modulation of pUCP reaction rather than to an increased protein synthesis. Finally, a properly developed method, based on a single membrane potential measurement, to evaluate both pUCP maximal activity and functioning, is reported.

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