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Open Access Research article

Effects of yeast trehalose-6-phosphate synthase 1 on gene expression and carbohydrate contents of potato leaves under drought stress conditions

Mihály Kondrák, Ferenc Marincs, Ferenc Antal, Zsófia Juhász and Zsófia Bánfalvi*

Author Affiliations

Agricultural Biotechnology Center, Szent-Györgyi Albert u. 4, Gödöllő, Hungary

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BMC Plant Biology 2012, 12:74  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-74

Published: 30 May 2012

Abstract

Background

The development of drought-tolerant, elite varieties of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is a challenging task, which might be achieved by introducing transgenic lines into breeding. We previously demonstrated that strains of the White Lady potato cultivar that express the yeast trehalose-6-phosphate synthase ( TPS1) gene exhibit improved drought tolerance.

Results

We investigated the responses of the drought-sensitive potato cultivar White Lady and the drought-tolerant TPS1 transgenic variant to prolonged drought stress at both the transcriptional and metabolic levels. Leaf mRNA expression profiles were compared using the POCI microarray, which contains 42,034 potato unigene probes. We identified 379 genes of known function that showed at least a 2-fold change in expression across genotypes, stress levels or the interaction between these factors. Wild-type leaves had twice as many genes with altered expression in response to stress than TPS1 transgenic leaves, but 112 genes were differentially expressed in both strains. We identified 42 transcription factor genes with altered expression, of which four were uniquely up-regulated in TPS1 transgenic leaves. The majority of the genes with altered expression that have been implicated in photosynthesis and carbohydrate metabolism were down-regulated in both the wild-type and TPS1 transgenic plants. In agreement with this finding, the starch concentration of the stressed leaves was very low. At the metabolic level, the contents of fructose, galactose and glucose were increased and decreased in the wild-type and TPS1 transgenic leaves, respectively, while the amounts of proline, inositol and raffinose were highly increased in both the wild-type and TPS1 transgenic leaves under drought conditions.

Conclusions

To our knowledge, this study is the most extensive transcriptional and metabolic analysis of a transgenic, drought-tolerant potato line. We identified four genes that were previously reported as drought-responsive in non-transgenic Andean potato cultivars. The substantial increases in proline, inositol and raffinose contents detected in both the wild-type and TPS1 transgenic leaves appears to be a general response of potatoes to drought stress. The four transcription factors uniquely up-regulated in TPS1 transgenic leaves are good candidates for future functional analyses aimed at understanding the regulation of the 57 genes with differential expression in TPS1 transgenic leaves.