Overexpression of tomato chloroplast omega-3 fatty acid desaturase gene alleviates the photoinhibition of photosystems 2 and 1 under chilling stress

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In transgenic (TG) tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) overexpressed ω-3 fatty acid desaturase gene (LeFAD7) was identified, which was controlled by the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter and induced increased contents of unsaturated fatty acids in thylakoid membrane. Under chilling stress at low irradiance (4 °C, 100 μmol m−2 s−1) TG plants with higher linolenic acids (18: 3) content maintained a higher O2 evolution rate, oxidizable P700 content, and maximal photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) than wild type (WT) plants. Low temperature treatment for 6 h resulted in extensive changes of chloroplast ultrastructure: in WT plants most chloroplasts became circular, the number of amyloids increased, appressed granum stacks were dissolved, grana disappeared, and the number of grana decreased, while only a few grana were found in leaves of TG plants. Hence the overexpression of LeFAD7 could increase the content of 18: 3 in thylakoid membrane, and this increase alleviated the photoinhibition of photosystem (PS) 1 and PS2 under chilling at low irradiance.

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