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Research Project: Soybean Seed Improvement Through Translational Genomics, Assessments of Elemental Carbon Metabolism, and Lipid Profiles

Location: Plant Genetics Research

Title: Metabolic synergy in Camelina reproductive tissues for seed development

item KOLEY, SOMNATH - Danforth Plant Science Center
item CHU, KEVIN - Danforth Plant Science Center
item MUKHERJEE, THIYA - Danforth Plant Science Center
item Morley, Stewart
item KLEBANOVYCH, ANASTASIYA - Danforth Plant Science Center
item CZYMMEK, KIRK - Danforth Plant Science Center
item Allen, Douglas - Doug

Submitted to: Science Advances
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/14/2022
Publication Date: 10/28/2022
Citation: Koley, S., Chu, K.L., Mukherjee, T., Morley, S.A., Klebanovych, A., Czymmek, K.J., Allen, D.K. 2022. Metabolic synergy in Camelina reproductive tissues for seed development. Science Advances. 8(43). Article eabo7683.

Interpretive Summary: Our understanding of plant growth and development follows a common paradigm: leaves take up carbon dioxide and convert it into sugars that are exported to seeds, roots and other young undeveloped leaves for plant growth. Curiously, some plants place their pods at the top of the plant with direct access to sunlight and spatially far from leaves. Such is the case for Camelina sativa an emerging oil crop grown on marginal lands with 30-40% of seed biomass as lipid. The pods of Camelina are a darker green hue than leaves, particularly at the time of seed-filling. This highlights that pods might be ‘tuned’ to make an important local photosynthetic contribution to seed development, whereas leaves supply resources to the rest of the plant and are not developmentally coordinated exclusively for seed-filling. Our results indicate that pod wall photosynthesis supplies approximately one-third to one-half of the carbon in the seed during seed filling. These findings force a reconsideration of the traditional dogma and have important implications for engineering tomorrow’s crops. Our work quantitatively describes this operation with paradigm changing results – the pod is an important contributor to seed yield.

Technical Abstract: Photosynthesis in fruits is well-documented but its contribution to seed development and yield remains largely unquantified. In oilseeds, the pods are green and elevated with direct access to sunlight. With 13C labeling in planta and through an intact pod labeling system, a unique multi-tissue comprehensive flux model mechanistically described how pods assimilate up to one-half (33-48%) of seed carbon by proximal photosynthesis in Camelina sativa. By capturing integrated tissue metabolism, the studies reveal the contribution of plant architecture beyond leaves, to enable seed filling and maximize number of viable seeds. The latent capacity of the pod wall in the absence of leaves contributes approximately 79% of seed biomass, supporting greater seed sink capacity and higher theoretical yields that suggest an opportunity for crop productivity gains.