Original Paper

Transgenic Research

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 379-392

First online:

Lignin biosynthesis in transgenic Norway spruce plants harboring an antisense construct for cinnamoyl CoA reductase (CCR)

  • Johan WadenbäckAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Biology and Forest Genetics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)
  • , Sara von ArnoldAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Biology and Forest Genetics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)
  • , Ulrika EgertsdotterAffiliated withDepartment of Forestry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • , Michael H. WalterAffiliated withLeibniz Inst Pflanzenbiochem, Abt Sekundarstoffwechsel
  • , Jacqueline Grima-PettenatiAffiliated withIUMR CNRS/UPS 5546, Signaux et Messages Cellulaires Chez les Végétaux, Pole de Biotechnologie Végétale
  • , Deborah GoffnerAffiliated withIUMR CNRS/UPS 5546, Signaux et Messages Cellulaires Chez les Végétaux, Pole de Biotechnologie Végétale
  • , Göran GellerstedtAffiliated withDepartment of Fibre and Polymer Technology, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)
  • , Terry GullionAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, West Virginia University
  • , David ClaphamAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Biology and Forest Genetics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

An attractive objective in tree breeding is to reduce the content of lignin or alter its composition, in order to facilitate delignification in pulping. This has been achieved in transgenic angiosperm tree species. In this study we show for the first time that changes in lignin content and composition can be achieved in a conifer by taking a transgenic approach. Lignin content and composition have been altered in five-year-old transgenic plants of Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst) expressing the Norway spruce gene encoding cinnamoyl CoA reductase (CCR) in antisense orientation. The asCCR plants had a normal phenotype but smaller stem widths compared to the transformed control plants. The transcript abundance of the sense CCR gene was reduced up to 35% relative to the transformed control. The corresponding reduction in lignin content was up to 8%, which is at the lower limit of the 90–99% confidence intervals reported for natural variation. The contribution of H-lignin to the non-condensed fraction of lignin, as judged by thioacidolysis, was reduced up to 34%. The H-lignin content was strongly correlated with the total lignin content. Furthermore, the kappa number of small-scale Kraft pulps from one of the most down-regulated lines was reduced 3.5%. The transcript abundances of the various lignin biosynthetic genes were down-regulated indicating co-regulation of the biosynthetic pathway.

Keywords

Antisense CCR Co-regulation of lignin biosynthesis Lignin content and composition Norway spruce Transgenic plants