Altered sucrose metabolism impacts plant biomass production and flower development
Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco) was transformed with three genes involved in sucrose metabolism, UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (UGPase, EC 18.104.22.168), sucrose synthase (SuSy, EC 22.214.171.124) and sucrose phosphate synthase (SPS, EC 126.96.36.199). Plants harbouring the single transgenes were subsequently crossed to produce double and triple transgenic lines, including: 2 × 35S::UGPase × SPS, 4CL::UGPase × SPS, 2 × 35S::SuSy × SPS, 4CL::SuSy × SPS, 2 × 35S::UGPase × SuSy × SPS, and 4CL::UGPase × SuSy × SPS. The ultimate aim of the study was to examine whether it is possible to alter cellulose production through the manipulation of sucrose metabolism genes. While altering sucrose metabolism using UGPase, SuSy and SPS does not have an end effect on cellulose production, their simultaneous overexpression resulted in enhanced primary growth as seen in an increase in height growth, in some cases over 50%. Furthermore, the pyramiding strategy of simultaneously altering the expression of multiple genes in combination resulted in increased time to reproductive bud formation as well as altered flower morphology and foliar stipule formation in 4CL lines. Upregulation of these sucrose metabolism genes appears to directly impact primary growth and therefore biomass production in tobacco.