Expression of a carotenogenic gene allows faster biomass production by redesigning plant architecture and improving photosynthetic efficiency in tobacco.

Juan C Moreno, Jianing Mi, Shreya Agrawal, Stella Kössler, Veronika Turečková, Danuše Tarkowská, Wolfram Thiele, Salim Al-Babili, Ralph Bock, Mark Aurel Schöttler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Because carotenoids act as accessory pigments in photosynthesis, play a key photoprotective role, and are of major nutritional importance, carotenogenesis has been a target for crop improvement. Although carotenoids are important precursors of phytohormones, previous genetic manipulations reported little if any effects on biomass production and plant development, but resulted in specific modifications in carotenoid content. Unexpectedly, the expression of the carrot lycopene b-cyclase (DcLCYB1) in Nicotiana tabacum cv. Xanthi not only resulted in increased carotenoid accumulation, but also in altered plant architecture characterized by longer internodes, faster plant growth, early flowering and increased biomass. Here, we have challenged these transformants with a range of growth conditions to determine the robustness of their phenotype and analyze the underlying mechanisms. Transgenic DcLCYB1 lines showed increased transcript levels of key genes involved in carotenoid, chlorophyll, gibberellin (GA) and abscisic acid (ABA) biosynthesis, but also in photosynthesis-related genes. Accordingly, their carotenoid, chlorophyll, ABA and GA contents were increased. Hormone application and inhibitor experiments confirmed the key role of altered GA/ABA contents in the growth phenotype. Because the longer internodes reduce shading of mature leaves, induction of leaf senescence was delayed, and mature leaves maintained a high photosynthetic capacity. This increased total plant assimilation, as reflected in higher plant yields under both fully-controlled constant and fluctuating light, and in non-controlled conditions. Furthermore, our data is a warning that engineering of isoprenoid metabolism can cause complex changes in phytohormone homeostasis and therefore plant development, which have not been sufficiently considered in previous studies.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalThe Plant journal : for cell and molecular biology
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 6 2020

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