Differential Expression of Genes in the Leaves of Sugarcane in Response to Sugar Accumulation
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In C4 sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids), photosynthetic activity has been shown to be regulated by the demand for carbon from sink tissues. There is evidence, from other plant species, that sink-limitation of photosynthesis is facilitated by sugar-signaling mechanisms in the leaf that affect photosynthesis through regulation of gene expression. In this work, we manipulated leaf sugar levels by cold-girdling leaves (5°C) for 80 h to examine the mechanisms whereby leaf sugar accumulation affects photosynthetic activity and assess whether signaling mechanisms reported for other species operate in sugarcane. During this time, sucrose and hexose concentrations above the girdle increased by 77% and 81%, respectively. Conversely, leaf photosynthetic activity (A) and electron transport rates (ETR) decreased by 66% and 54%, respectively. Quantitative expression profiling by means of an Affymetrix GeneChip Sugarcane Genome Array was used to identify genes responsive to cold-girdling (56 h). A number of genes (74) involved in primary and secondary metabolic pathways were identified as being differentially expressed. Decreased expression of genes related to photosynthesis and increased expression of genes involved in assimilate partitioning, cell wall synthesis, phosphate metabolism and stress were observed. Furthermore four probe sets homologous to trehalose 6-phosphate phosphatase (TPP; EC 188.8.131.52) and trehalose 6-phosphate synthase (TPS; EC 184.108.40.206) were up- and down-regulated, respectively, indicating a possible role for trehalose 6-phosphate (T6P) as a putative sugar-sensor in sugarcane leaves.