Genetic engineering of eggplant accumulating β-carotene in fruit

Abstract

Key message

Genetic engineering of eggplant using fruit-specific EEF48 promoter-driven bacterial PSY gene, crtB, confers β-carotene accumulation in fruit.

Abstract

Eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) is globally cultivated especially in Asia and is an important source of nutrients in the diets of low-income consumers in developing countries. Since fruits of eggplant have low provitamin A carotenoid content, it is expected to develop eggplant with high carotenoid content for combatting vitamin A deficiency. To achieve this, the present study implemented a metabolic engineering strategy to modify the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway in eggplant. Expression analysis of carotenogenic genes in eggplant tissues showed that the expression of the endogenous phytoene synthase (PSY) was low in fruit and callus. Orange-colored calluses were generated from ectopic expression of crtB gene, which encodes bacterial PSY, in eggplant cells. The orange calluses accumulated > 20 μg g−1 FW of β-carotene, which was approximately 150-fold higher than that of the untransformed calluses. These observations suggest that the PSY expression is the rate-limiting step for β-carotene production in callus and fruit. Since the orange calluses did not regenerate plants, we chose eggplant EEF48 gene, which is presumably expressed in fruit. We amplified its promoter region by TAIL-PCR and showed that the EEF48 promoter is indeed active in eggplant fruit. Subsequently, transgenic eggplant lines having EEF48 promoter-driven crtB were produced. Among the transgenic lines produced, one line set fruit containing 1.50 μg g−1 FW of β-carotene, which was 30-fold higher than that of the untransformed fruits (0.05 μg g−1 FW). The self-pollinated progenies showed a 3:1 segregation ratio for the presence and absence of the transgene, which was linked to the β-carotene accumulation in fruit. These results provide a strategy for improvement of carotenoid content in eggplant fruit.

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Abbreviations

CrtB:

Bacterial phytoene synthase

GGPP:

Geranylgeranyl diphosphate

GUS:

β-Glucuronidase

HPLC:

High-pressure liquid chromatography

PSY:

Phytoene synthase

TP:

Transit peptide

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Dr. Norihiko Misawa (Ishikawa Prefectural University) for the pBIScrtB vector,

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Correspondence to Nozomu Koizumi.

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Communicated by Günther Hahne.

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Mishiba, KI., Nishida, K., Inoue, N. et al. Genetic engineering of eggplant accumulating β-carotene in fruit. Plant Cell Rep 39, 1029–1039 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00299-020-02546-8

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Keywords

  • Eggplant
  • Carotenoid
  • Genetic engineering
  • Agrobacterium