, Volume 218, Issue 5, pp 759-766
Date: 19 Nov 2003

Expression of a yeast-derived invertase in companion cells results in long-distance transport of a trisaccharide in an apoplastic loader and influences sucrose transport

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Abstract

Companion cell-specific expression of a cytosolic invertase from yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) was used as a tool to synthesise oligosaccharides in the sieve element/companion cell complex and study whether oligosaccharides could be transported in the phloem of an apoplastically loading species. Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) plants expressing the invertase under the control of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens rolC promoter produced the trisaccharide 6-kestose in leaves, which was transported via the phloem and accumulated in tubers of transgenic plants. In graft experiments with rolC invertase plants as scion and wild-type rootstocks, 6-kestose accumulated in tubers to levels comparable to sucrose. This shows that long-distance transport of oligosaccharides is possible in apoplastically loading plants, which normally transport only sucrose. The additional transport route for assimilates neither led to elevated photosynthetic activity nor to increased tuber yield. Enhanced sucrose turnover in companion cells caused large amounts of glucose and fructose to be exuded from leaf petioles, and elevated levels of sucrose were detected in phloem exudates. While the latter indicates a higher capacity for sucrose loading into the phloem due to increased metabolic activity of companion cells, the massive release of hexoses catalysed by the invertase seemed to interfere with assimilate delivery to sink organs.