Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 98, Issue 4–5, pp 333–347 | Cite as

Contributions of TaSUTs to grain weight in wheat under drought

  • Sarah Al-Sheikh Ahmed
  • Jingjuan ZhangEmail author
  • Wujun Ma
  • Bernard Dell


Key message

The homologous genes to OsSUT1-5 in wheat were identified and detailed analysed. TaSUT1 was the predominant sucrose transporter group and it illustrated the genotypic variations towards drought during grain filling.


Sucrose transporters (SUT) play crucial roles in wheat stem water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) remobilization to grain. To determine the major functional SUT gene groups in shoot parts of wheat during grain development, drought tolerant varieties, Westonia and Kauz, were investigated in field drought experiments. Fourteen homologous genes to OsSUT1-5 were identified on five homeologous groups, namely TaSUT1_4A, TaSUT1_4B, TaSUT1_4D; TaSUT2_5A, TaSUT2_5B, TaSUT2_5D; TaSUT3_1A, TaSUT3_1D; TaSUT4_6A, TaSUT4_6B, TaSUT4_6D; TaSUT5_2A, TaSUT5_2B, and TaSUT5_2D, and their gene structures were analysed. Wheat plants above the ground were harvested from pre-anthesis to grain maturity and the stem, leaf sheath, rachis, lemma and developing grain were used for analysing TaSUT gene expression. Grain weight, thousand grain weight, kernel number per spike, biomass and stem WSC were characterized. The study showed that among the five TaSUT groups, TaSUT1 was the predominant sucrose transporting group in all organs sampled, and the expression was particularly high in the developing grain. In contrast to TaSUT1, the gene expression levels of TaSUT2, TaSUT3 and TaSUT4 were lower, except for TaSUT3 which showed preferential expression in the lemma before anthesis. The TaSUT5 gene group was very weakly expressed in all tissues. The upregulated gene expression of TaSUT1 Westonia type in stem and grain reveal a crucial role in stem WSC remobilization to grain under drought. The high TaSUT1 gene expression and the significant correlations with thousand grain weight (TGW) and kernel number per spike demonstrated the contribution in Kauz’s high grain yield in an irrigated environment and high TGW in Westonia under drought stress. Further molecular level identification is required for gene marker development.


Drought Gene expression Grain filling Sucrose transporter Water soluble carbohydrate remobilization Wheat 



1-Fructan exohydrolase


Abscisic acid


Days after anthesis


Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase


Kernel number per spike


Sucrose transporters


Thousand grain weight


Water soluble carbohydrate



This work was supported by a Scholarship of Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to the first author, Grain Research & Development Corporation ‘Grant Number UMU00039 and Murdoch University. The Western Australian Agriculture and Biotechnology Centre provided facilities for molecular analyses. The work involved collaboration with staff from the Department of Agricultural and Food Western Australia, Merredin station.

Author contributions

SA, JZ, WM, BD conceived the research. SA and JZ performed the experiments and analysed the data. SA, JZ, WM and BD wrote and reviewed the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors claim that there is no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11103_2018_782_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (109 kb)
Supplementary Figure S1 (PDF 109 KB)


  1. Anders S, Huber W (2010) Differential expression analysis for sequence count data. Genome Biol 11:R106. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Aoki N, Hirose T, Takahashi S, Ono K, Ishimaru K, Ohsugi R (1999) Molecular cloning and expression analysis of a gene for a sucrose transporter in maize (Zea mays L.). Plant Cell Physiol 40:1072–1078. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Aoki N, Whitfield P, Hoeren F, Scofield G, Newell K, Patrick J, Offler C, Clarke B, Rahman S, Furbank RT (2002) Three sucrose transporter genes are expressed in the developing seed of hexaploid wheat. Plant Mol Biol 50:453–462. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Aoki N, Hirose T, Scofield GN, Whitfeld PR, Furbank RT (2003) The sucrose transporter gene family in rice. Plant Cell Physiol 44:223–232. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Aoki N, Scofield GN, Wang XD, Patrick JW, Offler CE, Furbank RT (2004) Expression and localization analysis of the wheat sucrose transporter TaSUT1 in vegetative tissues. Planta 219:176–184. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Butler JD, Byrne PF, Mohammadi V, Chapman PL, Haley SD (2005) Agronomic performance of Rht alleles in a spring wheat population across a range of moisture levels. Crop Sci 45:939–947CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Deol KK, Mukherjee S, Gao F, Brule-Babel A, Stasolla C, Ayele BT (2013) Identification and characterization of the three homeologues of a new sucrose transporter in hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). BMC Plant Biol 13:181. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Eom JS, Cho JI, Reinders A, Lee SW, Yoo Y, Tuan PQ, Choi SB, Bang G, Park YI, Cho MH, Bhoo SH, An G, Hahn TR, Ward JM, Jeon JS (2011) Impaired function of the tonoplast-localized sucrose transporter in rice, OsSUT2, limits the transport of vacuolar reserve sucrose and affects plant growth. Plant Physiol 157:109–119. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Eom JS, Chen L-Q, Sosso D, Julius BT, Lin IW, Qu X-Q, Braun DM, Frommer WB (2015) SWEETs, transporters for intracellular and intercellular sugar translocation. Curr Opin Plant Biol 25:53–62. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Fales FW (1951) The assimilation and degradation of carbohydrates by yeast cells. J Biol Chem 193:113–124PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Guóth A, Tari I, Gallé Á, Csiszár J, Pécsváradi A, Cseuz L, Erdei L (2009) Comparison of the drought stress responses of tolerant and sensitive wheat cultivars during grain filling: changes in flag leaf photosynthetic activity, ABA levels, and grain yield. J Plant Growth Regul 28:167–176. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Halford NG (2011) Sugars in crop plants. Ann Appl Biol 158:1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hirose T, Imaizumi N, Scofield GN, Furbank RT, Ohsugi R (1997) cDNA cloning and tissue specific expression of a gene for sucrose transporter from rice (Oryza sativa L.). Plant Cell Physiol 38:1389–1396. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Hirose T, Endler A, Ohsugi R (1999) Gene expression of enzymes for starch and sucrose metabolism and transport in leaf sheaths of rice (Oryza sativa L.) during the heading period in relation to the sink to source transition. Plant Prod Sci 2:178–183. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ibraheem O, Dealtry G, Roux S, Bradley G (2011) The effect of drought and salinity on the expressional levels of sucrose transporters in rice (‘Oryza sativa’ Nipponbare) cultivar plants. Plant Omics 4:68–74Google Scholar
  16. Ishimaru K, Hirose T, Aoki N, Takahashi S, Ono K, Yamamoto S, Wu J, Saji S, Baba T, Ugaki M, Matsumoto T, Ohsugi R (2001) Antisense expression of a rice sucrose transporter OsSUT1 in rice (Oryza sativa L.). Plant Cell Physiol 42:1181–1185. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Kobata T, Palta J, Turner N (1992) Rate of development of postanthesis water stress and grain filling of spring wheat. Crop Sci 32:1238–1242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Leach KA, Tran TM, Slewinski TL, Meeley RB, Braun DM (2017) Sucrose transporter2 contributes to maize growth, development, and crop yield. J Integr Plant Biol 59:390–408. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Mizuno H, Kasuga S, Kawahigashi H (2018) Root lodging is a physical stress that changes gene expression from sucrose accumulation to degradation in sorghum. BMC Plant Biol 18:2. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Mukherjee S, Liu A, Deol KK, Kulichikhin K, Stasolla C, Brule-Babel A, Ayele BT (2015) Transcriptional coordination and abscisic acid mediated regulation of sucrose transport and sucrose-to-starch metabolism related genes during grain filling in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Plant Sci 240:143–160. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Pheloung P, Siddique K (1991) Contribution of stem dry matter to grain yield in wheat cultivars. Aust J Plant Physiol 18:53–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Robinson MD, McCarthy DJ, Smyth GK (2010) edgeR: a bioconductor package for differential expression analysis of digital gene expression data. Bioinformatics 26:139–140. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Rosche E, Blackmore D, Tegeder M, Richardson T, Schroeder H, Higgins TJ, Frommer WB, Offler CE, Patrick JW (2002) Seed-specific overexpression of a potato sucrose transporter increases sucrose uptake and growth rates of developing pea cotyledons. Plant J 30:165–175. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Ruan YL (2012) Signaling role of sucrose metabolism in development. Mol Plant 5:763–765. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Schnyder H (1993) The role of carbohydrate storage and redistribution in the source-sink relations of wheat and barley during grain filling—a review. New Phytol 123:233–245. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Scofield GN, Hirose T, Gaudron JA, Upadhyaya NM, Ohsugi R, Furbank RT (2002) Antisense suppression of the rice sucrose transporter gene, OsSUT1, leads to impaired seed filling and germination but does not affect photosynthesis. Funct Plant Biol 29:815–826. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Slewinski TL, Meeley R, Braun DM (2009) Sucrose transporter1 functions in phloem loading in maize leaves. J Exp Bot 60:881–892. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Usha B, Bordoloi D, Parida A (2015) Diverse expression of sucrose transporter gene family in Zea mays. J Genet 94:151–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wang JR, Wang L, Gulden S, Rocheleau H, Balcerzak M, Hattori J, Cao W, Han F, Zheng YL, Fedak G, Ouellet T (2010) RNA profiling of fusarium head blight-resistant wheat addition lines containing the Thinopyrum elongatum chromosome 7E. Can J Plant Pathol 32:188–214. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wang L, Lu Q, Wen X, Lu C (2015) Enhanced sucrose loading improves rice yield by increasing grain size. Plant Physiol 169:2848–2862. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  31. Wang W, Zhou H, Ma B, Owiti A, Korban SS, Han Y (2016) Divergent evolutionary pattern of sugar transporter genes is associated with the difference in sugar accumulation between grasses and eudicots. Sci Rep 6:29153. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. Weschke W, Panitz R, Sauer N, Wang Q, Neubohn B, Weber H, Wobus U (2000) Sucrose transport into barley seeds: molecular characterization of two transporters and implications for seed development and starch accumulation. Plant J 21:455–467. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Xin Z, Velten JP, Oliver MJ, Burke JJ (2003) High-throughput DNA extraction method suitable for PCR. Biotechniques 34:824–826CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Xu Q, Chen S, Yunjuan R, Chen S, Liesche J (2018) Regulation of sucrose transporters and phloem loading in response to environmental cues. Plant Physiol 176:930–945. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Yang J, Zhang J, Wang Z, Zhu Q, Wang W (2001) Hormonal changes in the grains of rice subjected to water stress during grain filling. Plant Physiol 127:315–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Yemm EW, Willis AJ (1954) The estimation of carbohydrates in plant extracts by anthrone. Biochem J 57:508–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zhang J, Huang S, Fosu-Nyarko J, Dell B, McNeil M, Waters I, Moolhuijzen P, Conocono E, Appels R (2008) The genome structure of the 1-FEH genes in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.): new markers to track stem carbohydrates and grain filling QTLs in breeding. Mol Breed 22:339–351. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zhang J, Dell B, Conocono E, Waters I, Setter T, Appels R (2009) Water deficits in wheat: fructan exohydrolase (1-FEH) mRNA expression and relationship to soluble carbohydrate concentrations in two varieties. New Phytol 181:843–850. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Zhang J, Xu Y, Chen W, Dell B, Vergauwen R, Biddulph B, Khan N, Luo H, Appels R, Van den Ende W (2015) A wheat 1-FEH w3 variant underlies enzyme activity for stem WSC remobilization to grain under drought. New Phytol 205:293–305. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Zhu G, Ye N, Yang J, Peng X, Zhang J (2011) Regulation of expression of starch synthesis genes by ethylene and ABA in relation to the development of rice inferior and superior spikelets. J Exp Bot 62:3907–3916. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Veterinary and Life SciencesMurdoch UniversityMurdochAustralia

Personalised recommendations