Journal Article

Genetic engineering of rice capable of synthesizing fructans and enhancing chilling tolerance

Akira Kawakami, Yutaka Sato and Midori Yoshida

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 59, issue 4, pages 793-802
Published in print March 2008 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online March 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erm367

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Fructans are water-soluble fructose oligomers and polymers that are based on sucrose, and have been implicated in protecting plants against water stress. Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is highly sensitive to chilling temperatures, and is not able to synthesize fructans. Two wheat fructan-synthesizing enzymes, sucrose:sucrose 1-fructosyltransferase, encoded by wft2, or sucrose:fructan 6-fructosyltransferase, encoded by wft1, were introduced into rice plants, and rice transformants that accumulate fructans were successfully obtained. The mature leaf blades of transgenic rice lines with wft2 or wft1 accumulated 16.2 mg g−1 FW of oligo- and polysaccharides mainly composed of inulin oligomers of more than DP7, and 3.7 mg g−1 FW of oligo- and polysaccharides, mainly composed of phlein oligomers of more than DP15, respectively. The transgenic rice seedlings with wft2 accumulated significantly higher concentrations of oligo- and polysaccharides than non-transgenic rice seedlings, and exhibited enhanced chilling tolerance. The oligo- and polysaccharide concentrations of seedlings expressing wft1 were obviously lower than those of lines expressing wft2, and no correlation between oligo- and polysaccharide concentrations and chilling tolerance was detected in wft1-expressing rice lines. The results suggest that transgenic rice lines expressing wheat-derived fructosyltransferase genes accumulated large amounts of fructans in mature leaf blades and exhibited enhanced chilling tolerance at the seedling stage. This is the first report owing that fructan accumulation enhanced tolerance to non-freezing low temperatures.

Keywords: Chilling tolerance; fructan; fructosyltransferase; Oryza sativa; transgenic plant

Journal Article.  5596 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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