Journal Article

Improved tolerance to salinity and low temperature in transgenic tobacco producing glycine betaine

Kjell‐Ove Holmström, Susanne Somersalo, Abul Mandal, Tapio E. Palva and Björn Welin

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 51, issue 343, pages 177-185
Published in print February 2000 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online February 2000 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI:
Improved tolerance to salinity and low temperature in transgenic tobacco producing glycine betaine

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Glycine betaine is an osmoprotectant found in many organisms, including bacteria and higher plants. The bacterium Escherichia coli produces glycine betaine by a two‐step pathway where choline dehydrogenase (CDH), encoded by betA, oxidizes choline to betaine aldehyde which is further oxidized to glycine betaine by the same enzyme. The second step, conversion of betaine aldehyde into glycine betaine, can also be performed by the second enzyme in the pathway, betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase (BADH), encoded by betB. Transformation of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), a species not accumulating glycine betaine, with the E. coli genes for glycine betaine biosynthesis, resulted in transgenic plants accumulating glycine betaine. Plants producing CDH were found to accumulate glycine betaine as did F1 progeny from crosses between CDH‐ and BADH‐producing lines. Plants producing both CDH and BADH generally accumulated higher amounts of glycine betaine than plants producing CDH alone, as determined by 1H NMR analysis. Transgenic tobacco lines accumulating glycine betaine exhibited increased tolerance to salt stress as measured by biomass production of greenhouse‐grown intact plants. Furthermore, experiments conducted with leaf discs from glycine betaine‐accumulating plants indicated enhanced recovery from photoinhibition caused by high light and salt stress as well as improved tolerance to photoinhibition under low temperature conditions. In conclusion, introduction of glycine betaine production into tobacco is associated with increased stress tolerance probably partly due to improved protection of the photosynthetic apparatus.

Keywords: Transgenic tobacco; BADH; CDH; salt stress; cold stress; photoinhibition; recovery

Journal Article.  6098 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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