Generation and characterization of transgenic poplar plants overexpressing a cotton laccase gene

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Laccases are copper-containing glycoproteins, which are widespread in higher plants as multigene families. To gain more insight in the function of laccases in plants, especially potential role in lignification, we produced transgenic poplar plants overexpressing a cotton laccase cDNA (GaLAC1) under the control of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter. As compared with untransformed control plants, transgenic plants exhibited a 2.1- to 13.2-fold increased laccase activity, whereas plant growth rate and morphological characters remained similar to control plants. A 2.1–19.6% increase in total lignin content of the stem was found in transgenic plants. Moreover, transgenic plants showed a dramatically accelerated oxidation rate of phenolics, without obvious change in total phenolic content. Our data suggested that GaLAC1 may participate in lignin synthesis and phenolic metabolism in plants. The present work provided a new genetic evidence for the involvement of plant laccases in lignification.

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