Transgenic Research

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 85–92 | Cite as

Down-regulation of pyrophosphate: fructose 6-phosphate 1-phosphotransferase (PFP) activity in sugarcane enhances sucrose accumulation in immature internodes

  • Jan-Hendrik Groenewald
  • Frederik Coenraad Botha
Original Paper


Pyrophosphate: fructose 6-phosphate 1-phosphotransferase (PFP) activity was successfully down-regulated in sugarcane using constitutively expressed antisense and untranslatable forms of the sugarcane PFP-β gene. In young internodal tissue activity was reduced by up to 70% while no residual activity could be detected in mature tissues. The transgenic plants showed no visible phenotype or significant differences in growth and development under greenhouse and field conditions. Sucrose concentrations were significantly increased in the immature internodes of the transgenic plants but not in the mature internodes. This contributed to an increase in the purity of the immature tissues, resembling an early ripening phenotype. Both the immature and mature internodes of the transgenic plants had significantly higher fibre contents. These findings suggest that PFP influences the ability of young, biosynthetically active sugarcane culm tissue to accumulate sucrose but that the equilibrium of the glycolytic intermediates, including the stored sucrose, is restored when ATP-dependent phosphofructokinase and the residual PFP activity is sufficient to sustain the required glycolytic flux as the tissue matures. Moreover, it suggests a role for PFP in glycolytic carbon flow, which could be rate limiting under conditions of high metabolic activity.


Pyrophosphate: fructose-6-phosphate 1-phosphotransferase PFP Carbon partitioning Sucrose metabolism Transgenic sugarcane Gene silencing 



The South African Sugar Association, the South African Department of Trade and Industry and Stellenbosch University sponsored this work. We thank Dr Sarita Groenewald for critical reading of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan-Hendrik Groenewald
    • 1
  • Frederik Coenraad Botha
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Plant BiotechnologyStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  2. 2.South African Sugarcane Research InstituteMount EdgecombeSouth Africa

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