Browsing Doctoral Degrees (Genetics) by browse.metadata.advisor "Botha, F. C."
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- ItemCharacterisation of sucrose synthase activity in the sugarcane culm(Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2004-04) Schafer, Wolfgang Erich; Botha, F. C.; Rohwer, J. M.; University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Agrisciences. Dept. of Genetics. Institute for Plant Biotechnology (IPB).ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study had three main goals: 1. to investigate the occurrence on the protein level of sucrose synthase (SuSy) isoforms in sugarcane sink tissue, 2. to determine the kinetic properties of these isoforms, 3. to establish the tissue localisation of SuSy in the sugarcane culm The results are summarised below: Three SuSy isoforms were obtained from leaf roll tissue. The SuSyA and SuSyB isoforms differed in terms of charge characteristics, with SuSyA not binding to an anion exchange column that bound SuSyB and SuSyC under the same conditions. Both SuSyB and SuSyC isoforms were eluted at 180 mM KCl. The SuSyA and SuSyB isoforms were present during autumn, but during winter only the SuSyC isoform could be isolated. Even though they eluted at the same salt concentration, SuSyB and SuSyC were different isoforms, because they had different kinetic parameters, as well as different immunological properties. SuSyB and SuSyC could not have been mixtures of the same isoforms, since a polyclonal antiserum against SuSyB, which inactivates native SuSyB, did not inactivate SuSyC. All three isoforms had significantly different kinetic parameters, with the SuSyA isoform also having a much lower sucrose breakdown/synthesis ratio than the other two isoforms. Therefore, at least three SuSy isoforms occur in sugarcane leaf roll tissue on the protein level. The SuSyC isoform was subsequently kinetically characterised in detail. Data showed that the enzyme employs an ordered ternary complex mechanism, with UDP binding first and UDP-glucose dissociating last. These experimentally obtained kinetic parameters were then used to extend a kinetic model of sucrose accumulation. Data show that when the experimentally determined SuSy kineticparameters were entered into the model, a 40 % increase in sucrose concentration and 7 times reduction in fructose concentration resulted. These data illustrate the pronounced physiological effects that may result from the presence of different SuSy isoforms. SuSy protein localisation data, obtained by an immunohistochemical approach, indicated that SuSy protein was present in both storage parenchyma and vascular tissue of young, intermediate, and mature internodes. SuSy enzyme activity in different parts of the internodes was similar, except for internode 3, which had much higher activity in the bottom part of the internode, possibly because growth is faster here, hence a higher demand for sucrose cleavage exists here.
- ItemDevelopment of a transformation system for sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids) in South Africa using herbicide resistance as a model system(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2002-12) Snyman, Sandra Jane; Botha, F. C.; Huckett, B.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of AgriSciences. Dept. of Genetics and Institute of Plant Biotechnology.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Please refer to fulltext for abstract
- ItemGene discovery and expression analysis in sugarcane leaf and culm(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2002-12) Carson, Deborah L. (Deborah Lee); Botha, F. C.; Huckett, B.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of AcriSciences. Dept. of Genetics.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids) is a commercial crop plant capable of storing up to 20% sucrose on a fresh mass basis in the culm. Knowledge about gene expression during sugarcane growth and maturation is limited. The aim of this study was to assess whether an Expressed Sequence Tag (EST)-based approach towards analysis of sugarcane would reveal new information about gene expression and metabolic processes associated with sugarcane growth and development. The specific objectives were two-fold: firstly, to develop an EST database for sugarcane and secondly, to identify and analyse genes that are expressed in different sugarcane tissue types and developmental stages, with a specific focus on leaf and culm. An EST database for sugarcane was initiated to obtain information on sugarcane gene sequences. A total cDNA library was constructed from sugarcane immature leaf (leaf roll: meristematic region) tissue and 250 clones randomly selected and subjected to single-pass DNA sequence analysis. Sugarcane ESTs were identified by sequence similarity searches against gene sequences in international databases. Of the 250 leaf roll clones, 26% exhibited similarity to known plant genes, 50% to non-plant genes while 24% represented new gene sequences. Analysis of the identified clones indicated sequence similarity to a broad diversity of genes. A significant proportion of genes identified in the leaf roll were involved in processes related to protein synthesis and protein modification, as would be expected in meristematic tissues. Submission of 495 sugarcane gene sequences to the dbEST database represented the first sugarcane ESTs released into the public domain. Two subtracted cDNA libraries were constructed by reciprocal subtractive hybridisation between sugarcane immature and maturing internodal tissue. To explore gene expression during sugarcane culm maturation, partial sequence analysis of random clones from maturing culm total and subtracted cDNA libraries was performed. Database comparisons revealed that of the 337 cDNA sequences analysed, 167 showed sequence homology to gene products in the protein databases while 111 matched uncharacterised plant ESTs only. The remaining cDNAs showed no database match and could represent novel genes. The majority of ESTs corresponded to a variety of genes associated with general cellular metabolism. ESTs homologous to various stress response genes were also well represented. Analysis of ESTs from the subtracted library identified genes that may be preferentially expressed during culm maturation. The expression patterns of sugarcane genes were examined in different tissue sources and developmental stages to identify differentially expressed genes. cDNA arrays containing 1000 random clones from immature leaf and maturing culm cDNA libraries were hybridised with poly (At RNA from immature leaf, mature leaf, immature culm and maturing culm. All cDNAs examined hybridised to all four probes, but differences in signal intensity were observed for individual cDNAs between hybridisation events. No cDNAs displaying tissue- or developmental-stage specific expression were detected. Comparisons between hybridisation patterns identified 61 cDNAs that were more abundantly expressed in immature and mature leaf than the culm. Likewise, 25 cDNAs preferentially expressed in immature and maturing culm were detected. ESTs established for the differentially expressed cDNAs revealed sequence homology to a diverse collection of genes in both the leaf and the culm. These included genes associated with general cellular metabolism, transport, regulation and a variety of stress responses. None of the differentially expressed genes identified in the culm were homologous to genes known to be associated with sucrose accumulation. To examme differences at the level of gene transcription between low sucroseaccumulating and high sucrose-accumulating tissues, subtracted cDNA libraries were utilised. To isolate cDNAs differentially expressed during culm maturation, cDNA arrays containing 400 random clones (200 from each library) were screened with total cDNA probes prepared from immature and maturing culm poly (At RNA. Results indicated that 36% and 30% of the total number of cDNAs analysed were preferentially expressed in the immature and maturing culm, respectively. Northern analysis of selected clones confirmed culm developmental stage-preferential expression for most of the clones tested. ESTs generated for the 132 differentially expressed clones isolated exhibited homology to genes associated with cell wall metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, stress responses and regulation, where the specific ESTs identified in the immature and maturing culm were distinct from each other. No developmentally regulated ESTs directly associated with sucrose metabolism were detected. These results suggest that growth and maturation of the sugarcane culm is associated with the expression of genes for a wide variety of metabolic processes. In addition, genes encoding enzymes directly involved with sucrose accumulation do not appear to be abundantly expressed in the culm.
- ItemGenetic enhancement of pearl millet(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2004-03) O'Kennedy, Martha Margaretha; Botha, F. C.; Burger, Johan T.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of AgriSciences. Dept. of Genetics. Institute for Plant Biotechnology (IPB).ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was toe stablish a reliable protocol for the production 0 f transgenic pearl millet as this will open new avenues for augmenting the gene pool of this crop. This was achieved by identifying a highly regenerabie genotype and optimisation of a tissue culture system, and biolistic protocol f or stable integration of selected transgenes. Both a negative, herbicide resistance selectable marker gene, bar, and a positive selectable marker gene, manA, were individually introduced in order to identify and establish a reliable transformation protocol. The optimised transformation protocol was then used to introduce an antifungal gene in the genome of pearl millet to enhance resistance to the biotrophic fungus Sclerospora graminicola. S. graminicola, an obligate oomycetous fungal phytopathogen, is the causal agent of downy mildew in pearl millet plants and a major constraint in the production of pearl millet. A single component of antifungal resistance was introduced into the genome of pearl millet, as preliminary work towards determining its role in the total plant defence system. The approach chosen was to introduce a hydrolytic enzyme, 13-1,3- glucanase, from Trichoderma atroviride (formerly T. harzianum), a soil-borne filamentous fungus, capable of parasitizing several plant pathogenic fungi. It was anticipated that introducing this glucanase gene from T. atroviride which degrades glucan in the fungal cell walls, would significantly contribute to the improvement of resistance against downy mildew. Constructs were prepared containing the gene (gluc78) encoding a 78 kDa beta-1,3- glucanase. The constructs were prepared containing the gluc78 gene driven either by a strong constitutive promoter (ubiquitin promoter, exon and intron) or a wound inducible promoter, the potato proteinase inhibitor ilK gene promoter. The wound inducible promoter includes either an AMV leader' sequence or the rice Act1 intron to obtain higher expression levels in the monocotyledonous plant. The transformation efficiency using the particle inflow gun and the herbicide resistance gene, bar, was improved from 0.02% on a MS based medium, to 0.19 or 0.72% with manA as selectable marker gene on MS or L3 based medium, respectively. However, individual experiments, introducing manA as selectable marker gene, resulted in frequencies of 1.2 and 3%. This translated to one transformation event per plate, which contains on average 31-35 pre-cultured immature zygotic embryos. This is the first report of t he successful introduction and expression of a 13-1,3-glucanase encoding gene from a biocontrol fungus not only under constitutive expression but also under wound inducible expression in a plant. Optimisation of genetic engineering of pearl millet, a cereal crop recalcitrant to transformation, and the introduction of an antifungal transgene, was accomplished in this study. Initial results hint that expression of this transgene enhances resistance to S. graminicola.
- ItemGenetic manipulation of sucrose-storing tissue to produce alternative products(Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2007-03) Nell, Hanlie; Botha, F. C.; University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Agrisciences. Dept. of Genetics. Institute for Plant Biotechnology (IPB)The main aim of the work presented in this dissertation was to explore the possibility to genetically manipulate the sucrose storing crops, sugarcane and sweet sorghum, to convert their sucrose reserves into higher-value alternatives. For the purpose of this study we focussed on fructans as alternative sucrose-based high-value carbohydrates, since these fructose polymers are of significant commercial interest. To investigate the technical feasibility of transforming sugarcane and sweet sorghum to produce this novel carbohydrate, we proposed to transfer the fructosyltransferase genes from Cynara scolymus into these plants by means of particle bombardment. In order to apply this technology to sweet sorghum, an in vitro culture system suitable for transformation had to be established. For this purpose an extensive screening process with different combinations of variables were conducted. Though the relationships between these variables proved to be complex, it was concluded that immature zygotic embryos could be used to initiate a genotype-independent totipotent regeneration system with a 65% callus induction rate, provided that initiation takes place during summer. Stable transformation and regeneration of these calli were however not successful and will have to be optimised to allow future applications. By introducing fructosyltransferase genes into sugarcane, we succeeded in transforming sugarcane into a crop that produces a variety of fructans of the inulintype. Low molecular weight (LMW) inulins were found to accumulate in the mature internodes of 42% of the transgenic sugarcane plants expressing the sucrose:sucrose 1-fructosyltransferase (1-SST) gene, and in 77% of the plants that incorporated both 1-SST and fructan:fructan 1-fructosyltransferase (1-FFT), while only 8% of these plants accumulated high molecular weight (HMW) inulins. Our results demonstrated that sugarcane could be manipulated to synthesise and accumulate fructans without the induction of phenotypical irregularities. Inulins with a degree of polymerisation up to 60 were found in sugarcane storage tissue. In these HMW inulin-producing plants, up to 78% of the endogenous sucrose in the mature sugarcane culm was converted to inulin. This enabled inulin accumulation up to 165.3 mg g-1 fresh weight (FW), which is comparable to that found in native plants. These transgenic sugarcane plants, therefore exhibit great potential as a future industrial inulin source. Fructan production was detected in all the sugarcane plant tissue tested, predominantly as 1-kestose. In contrast with the fact that fructan accumulation in leaves did not affect the endogenous sucrose concentrations in these organs, the sucrose content of mature internodes that accumulated high levels of 1-kestose was severely reduced. However, increases in total sugar content, in some instances up to 63% higher than control plants, were observed. This phenomenon was investigated with the use of radio-labelled-isotopes. An increase in the allocation of incoming carbon towards sucrose storage, resulting in higher carbon partitioning into both 1- kestose and sucrose, were detected in the culms of transgenic compared to control lines. This modification therefore established an extra carbohydrate sink in the vacuoles that affected photosynthate partitioning and increased total soluble sugar content. The data suggests that sucrose sensing is the main regulatory mechanism responsible for adapting carbon flow in the cells to maintain sucrose concentration.
- ItemThe isolation and characterisation of a developmentally-regulated gene from Vitis vinifera L. berries(Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2004-12) Burger, Anita L.; Botha, F. C.; University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of AgriSciences. Dept. of Genetics. Institute for Plant Biotechnology.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Despite increased focus on ripening-related gene transcription in grapevine, and the large number of ripening-related cDNAs identified from grapes in recent years, the molecular basis of processes involved in grape berry ripening is still poorly understood. Moreover, little is known about the mechanisms involved in the ripening-related regulation of fruit-specific genes, since the isolation and characterisation of no ripening-related, fruit-specific promoter elements has been reported to date. This study was aimed at the isolation and characterisation of a fruit-specific, ripeningregulated gene from Vitis vinifera L. In the first phase of the work, gene transcription in ripening berries of Cabernet Sauvignon (a good quality wine cultivar) and Clairette blanche (a poor quality wine cultivar) were studied by Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism analysis of complementary DNA (cDNA-AFLP analysis). Total RNA from immature (14-weeks post flowering, wpf) and mature (18-wpf) berries was used for the analysis. A total of 1 276 cDNA fragments were visualised, of which 175 appeared to be ripening related. Average pairwise difference of the fragments amplified from immature and mature Clairette and Cabernet berries, suggested that ripening-related gene transcription in these two phenotypically different cultivars is remarkably similar. Nevertheless, it was shown that seventy percent of the 175 ripening-related cDNA fragments were cultivar-specific. It was suggested that these differences should be targeted to identify genes related to the phenotypical differences between the two cultivars, but also to identify genes possibly involved berry quality. Moreover, the analysis illustrated the usefulness of cDNA-AFLPs for the analysis of ripening-related gene transcription during grape berry ripening. In the second phase of the work, one of the ripening-related cDNAs identified by the cDNA-AFLP analysis, was selected for further characterisation. This work highlighted the limitation placed on the isolation of a single specific sequence from a cDNA-AFLP gel, indicating the presence of multiple ripening-related genes in a single band excised from a cDNA-AFLP gel. Steps to overcome this limitation of cDNA-AFLP analysis to identify and clone a specific ripening-related gene, were implemented. In short, the band corresponding to the particular ripening-related cDNA was band was excised from the cDNA-AFLP polyacrylamide gel and re-amplified. Northern blot analysis using the re-amplified, uncloned product confirmed the ripening-related transcription demonstrated by cDNA-AFLP analysis. The re-amplified, uncloned product was then cloned. Sequence analysis of two randomly selected candidate clones revealed two distinctly different sequences, of which neither hybridised to messenger RNA from ripening grape berries. Furtheranalysis revealed an additional five cDNAs with terminal sequences corresponding to the selective nucleotides of the primers used for selective amplification, in the re-amplified, uncloned product. Of these, only two were abundantly expressed in ripening grape berries, accounting for the ripeningrelated transcription visualised by cDNA-AFLP analysis. All seven cDNAs identified from the particular excised band were shown to be ripening-regulated during berry development, although most were characterised by low levels of transcription during berry ripening. One of the clones, based on the relative high levels of the transcript and the initiation of gene transcription at the onset of véraison (10- to 12-wpf), was identified for isolation and characterisation of the full length coding sequence. In the third phase of the work, it was shown that this cloned sequence corresponded to a gene encoding a proline-rich protein (PRP) associated with ripening in Merlot and Chardonnay (mrip1, Merlot ripening-induced protein 1). It was shown that the gene is specifically transcribed in the fruit tissue, seed and bunchstems of grapes, from 10-wpf (véraison) to the final stages of berry ripening. The results showed that mrip1 encodes a distinct member of the plant PRP family. Most obvious is the central region of mrip1, which is comprised of eight consecutive repeats of 19 amino acid residues each. In comparison with other grapevine PRPs, mrip1 revealed single amino acid differences and deletion of one of the 19 amino acid residues repeats, all in the central region of mrip1. In situ hybridisation studies showed that accumulation of the mrip1 transcript in the ripening berry is limited to the mesocarp and exocarp cells of the ripening grape berry. No transcript with high sequences similarity to mrip1 could be detected in ripening strawberry or tomato fruit. Based on the properties and proposed function of PRPs, and the results obtained in this study, potential applications for the use of this gene in the control of cell wall architecture in fruits, were proposed. Furthermore, as manipulation of fruit properties in grape berries would be most important in the later stages of ripening, mrip1 was proposed an ideal candidate gene for the isolation of a fruit- and late-ripening-specific promoter to achieve transgene transcription in genetically modified grapevine. The final phase of the work was dedicated to the isolation and characterisation of the mrip1 promoter element. A 5.5 kb sequence corresponding to the mrip1 5’ untranslated (UTR) flanking region was isolated and characterised by sequence analysis. In the 2.8 kb sequence directly upstream of the mrip1 transcription initiation site, several putative cis-acting regulatory elements were identified. These include a spectrum of hormone-, light-, phytochrome-, sugar-and stressresponsive elements, as well as elements implicated in tissue-specific transcription. Analysis of the sequence further upstream (3.6 – 5.5 kb) of the mrip1 transcription initiation site (TIS), revealed the presence of another proline-rich protein directly upstream of mrip1. Sequence identity of this sequence (mprp2) to the mrip1 coding sequence was 88%. This information provided the first insight into the chromosomal organisation of grapevine PRPs. For functional analysis of the mrip1 promoter element, the 2.2 kb sequence directly upstream of the mrip1 TIS, was translationally fused to the sgfpS65T reporter gene. Functionality of the mrip1:sgfpS65T fusion was verified by transient expression in green pepper pericarp tissue, before introduction into tobacco by Agrobacteriummediated transformation. In transgenic tobacco, transcription of the mrip1:sgfpS65T fusion was developmentally-regulated and specific to the ovary and nectary-tissue of the developing flower. Whilst low in immature flowers, the green fluorescent protein (GFP) rapidly accumulated to the high level of expression visualised in the flower in full-bloom, followed by a decrease in the final stages of ovary development. These observations suggested that the 2.2 kb mrip1 promoter is functional and that this promoter region harbours cis-elements necessary for tissue- and developmental-specific regulation of GFP accumulation. It furthermore suggested that the transcriptional activation of mrip1 is mediated by developmental signals present in both grapevine berries and tobacco flowers. Results presented, suggest that the use of tobacco as heterologous system for the analysis of ripening-related promoters, can be more generally applied. Evidently, characterisation of the mrip1 promoter region contributes towards a better understanding of the regulatory mechanisms involved in non-climacteric fruit ripening, and forms a basis for future experiments defining the cis-acting elements necessary for tissue- and cell-specific gene regulation in fruit, more specifically in grapevine. Moreover, the mrip1 promoter is an ideal candidate for the ripening-related, tissue-specific regulation of transgene transcription in genetically modified grapevine.
- ItemIsolation and evaluation of the sugarcane UDP-glucose dehydrogenase gene and promoter(Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2006-12) Van der Merwe, Jennie; Botha, F. C.; Groenewald, S.; University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Agrisciences. Dept. of Genetics. Institute for Plant Biotechnology (IPB)The young internodes of sugarcane are ideal targets for altering metabolism, through genetic manipulation, to potentially control known fungal diseases such as Smut or to increase sucrose yields in these regions that are currently being discarded. At present, no regulatory sequences that specifically drive transgene expression in young developing sugarcane tissues are available. The objective of this study was therefore to isolate and evaluate such a sequence. The promoter targeted for isolation in this study regulates the expression of UDP-glucose dehydrogenase (EC 188.8.131.52), an enzyme which catalyses the oxidation of UDP-glucose to UDP-glucuronic acid, a precursor for structural polysaccharides which are incorporated into the developing cell wall. A strong correlation between the expression of UDP-glucose dehydrogenase and a demand for structural polysaccharides in developing tissues could therefore be expected. The first part of this study addressed the general practicality of promoter isolation from sugarcane, a complex polyploid. A gene encoding UDP-glucose dehydrogenase was isolated from a sugarcane genomic library. The gene contains an open reading frame (ORF) of 1443 bp, encoding 480 amino acids and one large intron (973 bp), located in the 5’-UTR. The derived amino acid sequence showed 88 – 98% identity with UDP-glucose dehydrogenase from other plant species, and contained highly conserved amino acid motifs required for cofactor binding and catalytic activity. Southern blot analysis indicates a low copy number for UDP-glucose dehydrogenase in sugarcane. The possible expression of multiple gene copies or alleles of this gene was investigated through comparison of sequences amplified from cDNA prepared from different tissues. Although five Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) and one small-scale insertion/deletion (INDEL) were identified in the aligned sequences, hundred percent identity of the derived amino acid sequences suggested the expression of different alleles of the same gene rather than expression of multiple copies. The finding that multiple alleles are expressed to provide the required level of a specific enzyme, rather than the increased expression of one dominant allele, is encouraging for sugarcane gene and promoter isolation. In the second part of the study the suitability of UDP-glucose dehydrogenase as a target for the isolation of a developmentally regulated promoter was investigated. The contribution of UDP glucose dehydrogenase to pentan synthesis, as well as the expression pattern and subcellular localisation of the enzyme in mature sugarcane plants was studied at the tissue and cellular level. Radiolabelling with positionally labelled glucose was used to investigate the relative contributions of glycolysis, the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway and pentan synthesis to glucose catabolism. Significantly (P=0.05) more radiolabel was released as CO2 from [6-14C]- glucose than [1-14C]-glucose in younger internodes 3, 4 and 5, demonstrating a significant contribution of UDP-glucose dehydrogenase to glucose oxidation in the younger internodes. In addition, there was significantly (P=0.05) more radiolabel in the cell wall (fiber) component when the tissue was labelled with [1-14C]-glucose rather than [6-14C]-glucose. This also demonstrates a selective decarboxylation of glucose in position 6 prior to incorporation into the cell wall and is consistent with a major role for UDP-glucose dehydrogenase in cell wall synthesis in the younger internodes. Expression analysis showed high levels of expression of both the UDP-glucose dehydrogenase transcript and protein in the leafroll, roots and young internodes. In situ hybridisation showed that the UDP-glucose dehydrogenase transcript is present in virtually all cell types in the sugarcane internode, while immunolocalisation showed that the abundance of the protein declined in all cell types as maturity increased. Results obtained confirmed that this enzyme plays an important role in the provision of hemicellulose precursors in most developing tissues of the sugarcane plant, indicating that UDP-glucose dehydrogenase was indeed a suitable target for promoter isolation. Lastly, the promoter region and first intron, located in the 5’-untranslated region (UTR) of this gene, were isolated and subsequently fused to the GUS reporter gene for transient expression analysis and plant transformation. Transient expression analysis showed that the presence of the intron was essential for strong GUS expression. Analysis of stably transformed transgenic sugarcane plants, evaluated in a green house trial, showed that the isolated promoter is able to drive GUS expression in a tissue specific manner under these conditions.
- ItemManipulation of pyrophosphate fructose 6-phosphate 1-phosphotransferase activity in sugarcane(Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2006-03) Groenewald, Jan-Hendrik; Botha, F. C.; University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Agrisciences. Dept. of Genetics. Institute for Plant Biotechnology (IPB)The main aim of the work presented in this thesis was to elucidate the apparent role of pyrophosphate fructose 6-phosphate 1-phosphotransferase (PFP) in sucrose accumulation in sugarcane. PFP activity in sugarcane internodal tissue is inversely correlated to the sucrose content and positively to the water-insoluble component across varieties which differ in their capacities to accumulate sucrose. This apparent well defined and important role of PFP seems to stand in contrast to the ambiguity regarding PFP’s role in the general literature as well as the results of various transgenic studies where neither the downregulation nor the over-expression of PFP activity had a major influence on the phenotype of transgenic potato and tobacco plants. Based on this it was therefore thought that either the kinetic properties of sugarcane PFP is significantly different than that of other plant PFPs or that PFP’s role in sucrose accumulating tissues is different from that in starch accumulating tissues. In the first part of the study sugarcane PFP was therefore purified and its molecular and kinetic properties were determined. It consisted of two subunits which aggregated in dimeric, tetrameric and octameric forms depending on the presence of Fru 2,6-P2. Both the glycolytic and gluconeogenic reactions had broad pH optima and the kinetic parameters for all the substrates were comparable to that of other plant PFPs. The conclusion was therefore that sugarcane PFP’s molecular and kinetic characteristics do not differ significantly from that of other plant PFPs. The only direct way to confirm if PFP is involved in sucrose accumulation in sugarcane is to alter its levels in the same genetic background through genetic engineering. This was therefore the second focus of this study. PFP activity was successfully down-regulated in sugarcane. The transgenic plants showed no visible phenotype under greenhouse and field conditions and sucrose concentrations in their immature internodes were significantly increased. PFP activity was inversely correlated with sucrose content in the immature internodes of the transgenic lines. Both the immature and mature internodes of the transgenic plants had significantly higher fibre contents. This study suggests that PFP plays a significant role in glycolytic carbon flux in immature, metabolically active sugarcane internodal tissues. The data presented here confirm that PFP can indeed have an influence on the rate of glycolysis and carbon partitioning in these tissues. It also implies that there are no differences between the functions of PFP in starch and sucrose storing tissues and it supports the hypothesis that PFP provides additional glycolytic capacity to PFK at times of high metabolic flux in biosynthetically active tissue. This work will serve as a basis to refine future genetic manipulation strategies and could make a valuable contribution to the productivity of South African sugarcane varieties.
- ItemMarker assisted breeding in sugarcane : a complex polyploid(Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2007-03) Butterfield, Michael Keith; Botha, F. C.; Warnich, L.; University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Agrisciences. Dept. of Genetics.Association analysis was used to improve the efficiency of breeding sugarcane varieties for the negatively correlated traits of resistance to sugarcane smut and the eldana stalk borer. 275 RFLP and 1056 AFLP markers were scored across a population of 77 genotypes representing the genetic variation present within the SASRI breeding programme. Genetic diversity analysis did not detect significant structure within the population. Regression analysis identified 64 markers significantly associated with smut rating and 115 markers associated with eldana rating at r2 > 6.25%. Individual markers with the largest effects explained 15.9% of the phenotypic variation in smut rating and 20.2% of the variation in eldana. Five markers were significantly associated with both smut and eldana. In each case the marker effect was negatively correlated between the two traits, suggesting that they are genetically as well as phenotypically negatively correlated.
- ItemTrehalose and carbon partitioning in sugarcane(Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2005-12) Bosch, Susan; Botha, F. C.; Rohwer, J. M.; University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Agrisciences. Dept. of Genetics. Institute for Plant Biotechnology (IPB)The current understanding of the regulation of sucrose accumulation is still incomplete even though many scientists have investigated this subject. Components of trehalose metabolism have been implicated in the regulation of carbon flux in bacteria, yeast and more recently in plants. With a view to placing trehalose metabolism in the context of cytosolic sugarcane sucrose metabolism and carbon partitioning we have investigated the metabolites, transcripts and enzymes involved in this branch of carbohydrate metabolism in sugarcane internodal tissues. Sugarcane internodal trehalose levels varied between 0.31 ± 0.09 and 3.91 ± 0.99 nmol.g-1 fresh weight (FW). From statistical analysis of the metabolite profile it would appear that trehalose does not directly affect sucrose accumulation, although this does not preclude involvement of trehalose- 6-phosphate in the regulation of carbon partitioning. The metabolite data generated in this study demanded further investigation into the enzymes (and their transcripts) responsible for trehalose metabolism. Trehalose is synthesised in a two step process by the enzymes trehalose-6-phosphate synthase (EC 184.108.40.206, TPS) and trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase (EC 220.127.116.11, TPP), and degraded by trehalase (EC 18.104.22.168). Two novel sugarcane partial cDNAs that coded for trehalase (tre) and actin (required for normalisation in profiling experiments) were isolated and used along with partial transcripts for TPS and TPP to determine transcript levels in different tissue- and genotypes. A putative full-length SugTPS cDNA was isolated and characterised. Enzyme activities for TPS, TPP and trehalase were measured at levels of 2.7 nmol.min-1.mg-1protein, 8.5 nmol.min-1.mg-1protein and 6.2 nmol.min-1.mg-1protein respectively, from young internodal protein extracts of sugarcane, variety N19. TPP enzyme activity and transcript levels were higher in S. spontaneum than Saccharum interspecific hybrids. Kinetic analysis of TPP and trehalase activities were performed with the purpose of providing parameters for an in silico kinetic model of trehalose and sucrose metabolism. Three isoforms of TPP were identified and desingated TPPAI, TPPAII and TPPB. Both TPPA isoforms had pH optima of 6.0, and TPPB of pH 6.5. Apparent Km values were determined as 0.447 ± 0.007 mM for TPPAI, 13.82 ± 1.98 mM for TPPAII and 1.387 ± 0.18 mM for TPPB. Partial purification and characterisation of trehalase demonstrated dual pH optima of 3.5 and 6.0, with Km values between 0.345 and 0.375 mM. These data were used as the basis for a kinetic model of trehalose metabolism. A previously described kinetic model of cytosolic sucrose metabolism has been expanded to include the trehalose pathway (TPS, TPP and trehalase). The aim was to supplement the available information on cytosolic metabolism in sugarcane storage parenchyma, identify points of control between sucrose and trehalose metabolism, and provide a platform from which further experimental and in silico modelling can be launched. The model predicted trehalose in the same order of magnitude as those determined in the metabolite profiling experiments. The majority of control of flux over the trehalose pathway resided in the TPS step, with flux control coefficients > 70% of the total pathway. Incorporation of the trehalose branch into the original sucrose model showed that reactions from the original model significantly affected the steady-state attributes of the trehalose pathway. Due to the relatively low flux through the trehalose branch of the expanded model, complete recycling of trehalose, and the lack of allosteric regulation by trehalose-6-phosphate or trehalose on any of the reactions from the original sucrose model, incorporation of the trehalose branch had no significant effect on either steady-state cytosolic sucrose concentration or flux of sucrose into the vacuole. The expanded model affords a basis from which to further investigate trehalose metabolism in the context of plant sucrose accumulation.