Overexpression of plastidial thioredoxin f leads to enhanced starch accumulation in tobacco leaves

Autores UPV
Revista Plant Biotechnology Journal


Starch, the most abundant storage carbohydrate in plants, has been a major feedstock for first generation biofuels. Growing fuel demands require, however, that the starch yields of energy crops be improved. Leaf starch is synthesised during the day and degraded at night to power nonphotosynthetic metabolism. Redox regulation has been associated with the coordination of the enzymes involved in starch metabolism, but neither the signals nor mechanisms that regulate this metabolism are entirely clear. In this work, the thioredoxin (Trx) f and m genes, which code for key enzymes in plastid redox regulation, were overexpressed from the plastid genome. Tobacco plants overexpressing Trx f, but not Trx m, showed an increase of up to 700% in leaf starch accumulation, accompanied by an increase in leaf sugars, specific leaf weight (SLW), and leaf biomass yield. To test the potential of these plants as a nonfood energy crop, tobacco leaves overexpressing Trx f were subjected to enzymatic hydrolysis, and around a 500% increase in the release of fermentable sugars was recorded. The results show that Trx f is a more effective regulator of photosynthetic carbon metabolism in planta than Trx m. The overexpression of Trx f might therefore provide a means of increasing the carbohydrate content of plants destined for use in biofuel production. It might also provide a means of improving the nutritional properties of staple food crops.