Virus induced gene silencing for the study of starch metabolism

George, Gavin M. (Gavin Mager) (2010-03)

Thesis (PhD (Plant Biotechnology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Virus Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS) was optimized to allow for the study of starch metabolism. The plastidial inorganic pyrophosphatase gene, for which a mutant has never been identified, was studied using VIGS and it was found to have a broad role in this subcellular compartment. The accumulation of inorganic pyrophosphate limited the production of starch, carotenoids, chlorophyll, and increased the plants susceptibility to drought stress. These effects highlight the importance of this enzyme in maintaining a low intraplastidial concentration of PPi providing an environment which facilitates these anabolic processes. Several genes involved in starch synthesis and degradation were also targeted with the aim of establishing a system of multiple gene silencing for the study of metabolic pathways. One, two and three genes were successfully silenced using this system which was validated based on previously published data. Interestingly, simultaneous silencing of the two isoforms of disproportionating enzyme led to a novel phenotype as a large reduction in starch instead of the expected increase was observed.

No Afrikaans abstract available

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