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Physiological characteristics and metabolomics of transgenic wheat containing the maize C4 phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) gene under high temperature stress


In this paper, two transgenic wheat lines, PC27 and PC51, containing the maize PEPC gene and its wild-type (WT) were used as experimental material to study the effects of high temperature on their photosynthetic physiological characteristics and metabolome. The results showed that transgenic wheat lines had higher photosynthetic rate (P n) than WT under non-stress treatment (NT) and high temperature stress treatment (HT), and more significantly under HT. The change trends of F v/F m, Ф PSII, and q P were similar to P n, whereas that of non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) was the opposite. Compared with WT, no differences in chlorophyll content between the transgenic wheat and WT were observed under NT, but two transgenic lines had relatively higher contents than WT under HT. The change trends of Chlorophyll a/b radio, the decreased values of F m, Wk, and Vj, and the activity of the antioxidant enzyme were consistent with the chlorophyll content. Compared with WT, transgenic wheat lines exhibited lower rate of superoxide anion production, H2O2 and malondialdehyde content under HT, and no significant differences were observed under NT. The expression pattern of the ZmPEPC gene and wheat endogenous photosynthesis-related genes were in agreement with that of P n. Compared with WT, about 13 different metabolites including one organic acid, six amino acids, four sugars, and two polyols were identified under NT; 25 different metabolites including six organic acids, 12 amino acids, four sugars, and three polyols were identified under HT. Collectively, our results indicate that ZmPEPC gene can enhance photochemical and antioxidant enzyme activity, upregulate the expression of photosynthesis-related genes, delay degradation of chlorophyll, change contents of proline and other metabolites in wheat, and ultimately improves its heat tolerance.

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The National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 31371707), Genetically Modified Organisms Breeding Major Projects of China (no. 2011ZX08002-003), China Agriculture Research System (no.CARS-3-1-9) and Fundamental Research and Advanced Technology Project of Henan Province (no.162300410163) supported this work.

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Correspondence to Weigang Xu.

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The authors declare that the submitted manuscript does not contain previously published material and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. All authors listed have read the complete manuscript and have approved the submission of the paper. The manuscript is a truthful original work without fabrication, fraud, or plagiarism.

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Qi, X., Xu, W., Zhang, J. et al. Physiological characteristics and metabolomics of transgenic wheat containing the maize C4 phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) gene under high temperature stress. Protoplasma 254, 1017–1030 (2017).

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  • Wheat
  • Heat tolerance
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC)
  • Photosynthesis
  • Metabolomic