Accumulation of glycine betaine in transplastomic potato plants expressing choline oxidase confers improved drought tolerance

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Abstract

Main conclusion

Plastid genome engineering is an effective method to generate drought-resistant potato plants accumulating glycine betaine in plastids.

Glycine betaine (GB) plays an important role under abiotic stress, and its accumulation in chloroplasts is more effective on stress tolerance than that in cytosol of transgenic plants. Here, we report that the codA gene from Arthrobacter globiformis, which encoded choline oxidase to catalyze the conversion of choline to GB, was successfully introduced into potato (Solanum tuberosum) plastid genome by plastid genetic engineering. Two independent plastid-transformed lines were isolated and confirmed as homoplasmic via Southern-blot analysis, in which the mRNA level of codA was much higher in leaves than in tubers. GB accumulated in similar levels in both leaves and tubers of codA-transplastomic potato plants (referred to as PC plants). The GB content was moderately increased in PC plants, and compartmentation of GB in plastids conferred considerably higher tolerance to drought stress compared to wild-type (WT) plants. Higher levels of relative water content and chlorophyll content under drought stress were detected in the leaves of PC plants compared to WT plants. Moreover, PC plants presented a significantly higher photosynthetic performance as well as antioxidant enzyme activities during drought stress. These results suggested that biosynthesis of GB by chloroplast engineering was an effective method to increase drought tolerance.

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Change history

  • 02 April 2019

    Unfortunately, one of the author names has been misspelled in the original publication. The correct spelling is Qiping Song.

Abbreviations

GB:

Glycine betaine

COD:

Choline oxidase

RWC:

Relative water contents

MDA:

Malondialdehyde

qP:

Photochemical quenching

NPQ:

Non-photochemical quenching

ETR II:

Electron transport rate of PSII

ROS:

Reactive oxygen species

SOD:

Superoxide dismutase

POD:

Peroxidase

CAT:

Catalase

APX:

Ascorbate peroxidase

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31572071), the Science and Technology Department of Hubei Province of China (2016CFA052) and the Recruitment Program of Global Experts (China) to J. Z. Authors are also grateful to Dr. Mingyu Wu (Hubei University, Wuhan) for helping with soil moisture measurement.

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You, L., Song, Q., Wu, Y. et al. Accumulation of glycine betaine in transplastomic potato plants expressing choline oxidase confers improved drought tolerance. Planta 249, 1963–1975 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00425-019-03132-3

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Keywords

  • Compartmentation
  • Drought stress
  • Genetic improvement
  • Glycine betaine
  • Plastid transformation
  • Potato