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Transgenic cotton over-producing spinach sucrose phosphate synthase showed enhanced leaf sucrose synthesis and improved fiber quality under controlled environmental conditions

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Prior data indicated that enhanced availability of sucrose, a major product of photosynthesis in source leaves and the carbon source for secondary wall cellulose synthesis in fiber sinks, might improve fiber quality under abiotic stress conditions. To test this hypothesis, a family of transgenic cotton plants (Gossypium hirsutum cv. Coker 312 elite) was produced that over-expressed spinach sucrose-phosphate synthase (SPS) because of its role in regulation of sucrose synthesis in photosynthetic and heterotrophic tissues. A family of 12 independent transgenic lines was characterized in terms of foreign gene insertion, expression of spinach SPS, production of spinach SPS protein, and development of enhanced extractable V max SPS activity in leaf and fiber. Lines with the highest V max SPS activity were further characterized in terms of carbon partitioning and fiber quality compared to wild-type and transgenic null controls. Leaves of transgenic SPS over-expressing lines showed higher sucrose:starch ratio and partitioning of 14C to sucrose in preference to starch. In two growth chamber experiments with cool nights, ambient CO2 concentration, and limited light below the canopy, the transgenic line with the highest SPS activity in leaf and fiber had higher fiber micronaire and maturity ratio associated with greater thickness of the cellulosic secondary wall.

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Advanced Fiber Information System


Days post anthesis


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


High-Volume Instrumentation

IFC %:

Immature fiber content expressed as a percent


Kanamycin sensitive transgenic null line

npt II:

Gene for neomycin phosphotransferase conferring kanamycin resistance


Photon flux density

SFC %:

Short fiber content expressed as a percent


Sucrose phosphate synthase


Transgenic cotton lines over-expressing spinach sucrose phosphate synthase


Generations of transgenic plants, with T0 being primary transformants and numbers representing further seed-propagated generations




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Two anonymous reviewers are thanked for helpful comments. For providing materials, we thank Drs. Steve Huber (antibody to spinach SPS), Norma Trolinder (seeds of elite highly regenerable selections of G.h. cv Coker 312), and Hong Zhang (fragment of Arabidopsis 18S ribosomal RNA gene). For technical advice or assistance we thank: Norma Trolinder (training in cotton regeneration), Cory Reed and Michelle Morales (assistance with statistical analyses), Robert Wright (suggestions on DNA blotting protocol), and Tahan Jaradat, Nagurar Srinivas, and Melody Wainscott (preliminary analysis of SPS+ plant lines). FIAS software was developed by Dr. B. Xu (Univ. Texas-Austin). For funding and/or in-kind support of this work, we thank Cotton Incorporated Cary NC, the Texas Advanced Research, Technology, and Technology Development and Transfer Programs, the Phytotron of Duke University, the Texas Food and Fiber Commission, and Bayer CropScience.

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Correspondence to Candace H. Haigler.

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Haigler, C.H., Singh, B., Zhang, D. et al. Transgenic cotton over-producing spinach sucrose phosphate synthase showed enhanced leaf sucrose synthesis and improved fiber quality under controlled environmental conditions. Plant Mol Biol 63, 815–832 (2007).

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