Submitted to: American Society of Plant Biologists Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/19/2004
Publication Date: 7/24/2004
Citation: Garg, A., Kim, J., Owens, T., Ranwala, A.P., Do-Choi, Y., Kochian, L.V., Wu, R.J. 2004. Regulated overexpression of trehalose biosynthetic genes in rice confers high levels of abiotic stress tolerance. American Society of Plant Biologists Annual Meeting. p. 128. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Trehalose is a nonreducing disaccharide of glucose that functions as a compatible solute in the stabilization of biological structures under abiotic stress in bacteria, fungi, and invertebrates. With the notable exception of the desiccation-tolerant 'resurrection plants', trehalose is not thought to accumulate to detectable levels in most plants. We report here the regulated overexpression of Escherichia coli trehalose biosynthetic genes (otsA and otsB) as a fusion gene for manipulating abiotic stress tolerance in rice. The fusion gene has the advantages of necessitating only a single transformation event and a higher net catalytic efficiency for trehalose formation. The expression of the transgene was under the control of either tissue-specific or stress-dependent promoters. Compared with nontransgenic rice, several independent transgenic lines exhibited sustained plant growth, less photo-oxidative damage and more favorable mineral balance under salt, drought and low-temperature stress conditions. Depending on growth conditions, the transgenic rice plants accumulate trehalose at levels 3-10 times that of the non-transgenic controls. The observation that peak trehalose levels remain well below 1 mg/g fresh weight indicates that the primary effect of trehalose is not as a compatible solute. Rather, increased trehalose accumulation correlates with higher soluble carbohydrate levels and an elevated capacity for photosynthesis under both stress and non-stress conditions, consistent with a suggested role in modulating sugar sensing and carbohydrate metabolism. These findings demonstrate the feasibility of engineering rice for increased tolerance of abiotic stress and enhanced productivity through tissue-specific or stress-dependent overproduction of trehalose.