Fructan as a new carbohydrate sink in transgenic potato plants.

I.M. van der Meer, M.J.M. Ebskamp, R.G.F. Visser, P.J. Weisbeek, S.C.M. Smeekens

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Fructans are polyfructose molecules that function as nonstructural storage carbohydrates in several plant species that are important crops. We have been studying plants for their ability to synthesize and degrade fructans to determine if this ability is advantageous. We have also been analyzing the ability to synthesize fructan in relation to other nonstructural carbohydrate storage forms like starch. To study this, we induced fructan accumulation in normally non-fructan-storing plants and analyzed the metabolic and physiological properties of such plants. The normally non-fructan-storing potato plant was modified by introducing the microbial fructosyltransferase genes so that it could accumulate fructans. Constructs were created so that the fructosyltransferase genes of either Bacillus subtilis (sacB) or Streptococcus mutans (ftf) were fused to the vacuolar targeting sequence of the yeast carboxypeptidase Y (cpy) gene. These constructs were placed under the control of the constitutive cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter and introduced into potato tissue. The regenerated potato plants accumulated high molecular mass (>5 [times] 106 D) fructan molecules in which the degree of polymerization of fructose units exceeded 25,000. Fructan accumulation was detected in every plant tissue tested. The fructan content in the transgenic potato plants tested varied between 1 and 30% of dry weight in leaves and 1 and 7% of dry weight in microtubers. Total nonstructural neutral carbohydrate content in leaves of soil-grown plants increased dramatically from 7% in the wild type to 35% in transgenic plants. Our results demonstrated that potato plants can be manipulated to store a foreign carbohydrate by introducing bacterial fructosyltransferase genes. This modification affected photosynthate partitioning in microtubers and leaves and increased nonstructural carbohydrate content in leaves
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-570
JournalThe Plant Cell
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1994


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