Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 38, Issue 12, pp 1473–1484 | Cite as

A maize NAC transcription factor, ZmNAC34, negatively regulates starch synthesis in rice

  • Xiaojian PengEmail author
  • Qianqian Wang
  • Yu Wang
  • Beijiu Cheng
  • Yang Zhao
  • Suwen ZhuEmail author
Original Article


Key message

ZmNAC34 might function as an important regulator of starch synthesis by decreasing total starch accumulation and soluble sugar content and increasing amylose fractions.


Starch is a major component in endosperm and directly influences seed yield and the cooking quality of cereal grains. Starch is synthesized through a series of complex biological processes. Nevertheless, the mechanism by which starch biosynthesis is regulated in maize is still unclear. In this study, ZmNAC34, a NAC transcription factor related to starch synthesis, was screened based on transcriptome sequencing data. Subsequent qRT-PCR analysis showed that ZmNAC34 is specifically expressed in maize endosperm. Transactivation and subcellular localization assays revealed that ZmNAC34 possesses two characteristics of transcription factors: nuclear localization and transactivation activity. Overexpression of ZmNAC34 in rice decreased total starch accumulation and soluble sugar content, while increased amylose fractions. Meanwhile, the transgenic seeds exhibited alterant starch structure and abnormal morphology. In addition, compared with WT seeds, most of the 17 starch biosynthesis-related genes were significantly upregulated in transgenic seeds from 6 to 15 DAP (day after pollination). These data reveal that ZmNAC34 might function as an important regulator of starch synthesis, thus providing a new perspective on controlling seed yield and quality.


Maize ZmNAC34 Endosperm Starch synthesis 



We thank members of National Engineering Laboratory of Crop Stress Resistance Breeding for their suggestions in my experimental design and data processing. Funding was provided by Natural Science Foundation of Anhui Province to Xiaojian Peng and Qianqian Wang (Grant numbers 1908085QC133 and 1908085QC134).

Author contribution statement

SZ and XP conceived the project. QW and YW carried out the experiments and YZ performed the statistical analysis. BC, SZ and XP wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

299_2019_2458_MOESM1_ESM.tif (708 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 708 kb): The coding sequence and amino acid sequence of ZmNAC34
299_2019_2458_MOESM2_ESM.tif (2.5 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (TIFF 2605 kb): The positive transgenic seeds were detected by GUS staining method
299_2019_2458_MOESM3_ESM.tif (472 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (TIFF 472 kb): ZmNAC34-overexpression transgenic plants were detected through PCR assays
299_2019_2458_MOESM4_ESM.tif (82 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (TIFF 82 kb): Expression level of ZmNAC34 in transgenic seeds
299_2019_2458_MOESM5_ESM.doc (40 kb)
Supplementary material 5 (DOC 40 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Engineering Laboratory of Crop Stress Resistance Breeding, School of Life SciencesAnhui Agricultural UniversityHefeiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Institute of Horticulture of Anhui Academy of Agricultural SciencesHefeiPeople’s Republic of China

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