Influence of hexose-phosphates and carbon cycling on sucrose accumulation in sugarcane spp.
Thesis (MSc (Genetics. Plant Biotechnology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.
Sucrose accumulation, marked by a continuous cycle of synthesis and degradation, is characterised by a shift of carbon away from the insoluble matter and respiratory intermediates into sucrose. Despite this shift, a significant proportion of carbon is returned to these pools by hexose-phosphate: triose-phosphate cycling and/or sucrose cycling. Little is known about the magnitude and behaviour of these cycles in sugarcane. Contradictory reports on the relationship between these two cycles have led to the evaluation of the link between the hexose-phosphate: triose-phosphate- and sucrose cycle. In addition, it still needs to be tested whether these cycles could significantly influence carbon partitioning within sugarcane internodal tissue. In this work, a comprehensive metabolic profile was constructed for sugarcane internodal tissue by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) in order to determine the steady state levels of a broad range of primary metabolites that are involved in these cycles. The power of GC-MS was illustrated by the detection of raffinose, maltose, ribose, xylitol, inositol, galactose, arabinose and quinic acid, which was quantified for the first time in sugarcane internodal tissue. Analyses were not solely based on the prevailing metabolite levels, but also on the interactions between these metabolites. Thus, in a complementary approach the metabolic flux between the two substrate cycles was assessed by 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Analyses of transgenic sugarcane clones with 45-95% reduced cytosolic pyrophosphate: D-fructose-6-phosphate 1-phosphotransferase (PFP, EC 18.104.22.168) activity displayed no visual phenotypic change, but significant changes were evident in in vivo metabolite levels. Sucrose concentrations increased six and three-fold in young and maturing internodal tissue, respectively. Reduced PFP activity also resulted in an eight-fold increase in the hexose-phosphate: triose-phosphate ratio in the transgenic immature internodes. In addition, the hexose-phosphate: triose-phosphate cycling decreased in the immature internodes of the transgenic lines if compared to the immature control internode. However, there was no significant difference between the hexose-phosphate: triose-phosphate cycling in the mature internodal tissue of the transgenic and the control lines. This illustrated that PFP mediates hexose-phosphate: triose-phosphate cycling in immature sugarcane internodal tissue. Unpredictably, reduced PFP activity led to a ten-fold increase in sucrose cycling in the transgenic immature internodes. The combination of metabolite profiling and flux distribution measurements demonstrated that the fluxes through the sucrose and the hexose-phosphate pools were not co-regulated in sugarcane internodal tissue. From these observations a model was constructed that implicates higher sucrose cycling as a consequence of increased sucrose concentrations.