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Open Access Research article

Functional characterization of a serine-threonine protein kinase from Bambusa balcooa that implicates in cellulose overproduction and superior quality fiber formation

Jayadri Sekhar Ghosh123, Shubho Chaudhuri1, Nrisingha Dey2 and Amita Pal1*

Author Affiliations

1 Bose Institute, P1/12 CIT Scheme VIIM, Kolkata, India

2 Institute of Life Sciences, Chandrasekharpur, 751023 Bhubaneswar, Odhisa, India

3 Present Address: Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, 50011-1010 Ames, Iowa, USA

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BMC Plant Biology 2013, 13:128  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-128

Published: 10 September 2013



Molecular markers allow rapid identification of biologically important germplasm/s having desired character. Previously we have reported a genotype specific molecular marker, Balco1128 [GenBank ID EU258678] of Bambusa balcooa containing an ORF (375 bp) having high similarity with receptor like cytoplasmic kinase of Arabidopsis and Oryza. Balco1128 was found to be associated only with bamboo genotypes endowed with high cellulose and low lignin contents of fibers. Under the above backdrop, it was necessitated to characterize this genetic marker for better understanding of its biological significance in context of superior quality fiber development.


The full length cDNA (3342 bp) of BbKst, a serine-threonine protein kinase was isolated from B. balcooa comprising of six LRR domains at the N-terminal end and a kinase domain at the C-terminal end. Bacteria-expressed BbKst-kinase domain (3339 bp long) showed Mg2+ dependent kinase activity at pH 7.0, 28°C. Bioinformatics study followed by phospho-amino analysis further confirmed that BbKst-kinase belongs to the serine/threonine protein kinase family. Transcript analysis of the BbKst gene following RNA slot blot hybridization and qPCR revealed higher expression of BbKst during initiation and elongation stages of fiber development. Tissue specific expression studies showed much higher expression of BbKst transcript in stems and internodes of B. balcooa than in leaves and rhizomes. Southern analysis revealed single copy insertion of BbKst in most of the Agrobacterium mediated transgenic tobacco plants. Real-time PCR detected 150-200 fold enhanced expression of BbKst in different T1 tobacco lines than that of the vector transformed plants. Heterologous expression of BbKst under control of 35S promoter in transgenic tobacco showed high cellulose deposition in the xylem fibers. Number of xylary fibers was higher in transgenic T0 and T1 plants than that of empty-vector transformed tobacco plants offering enhanced mechanical strength to the transgenic plants, which was also substantiated by their strong upright phenotypes, significantly higher cellulose contents, flexibility coefficient, slenderness ratio, and lower Runkel ratio of the fibers.


This finding clearly demonstrated that BbKst gene (GenBank ID JQ432560) encodes a serine/threonine protein kinase. BbKst induced higher cellulose deposition/synthesis in transgenic tobacco plants, an important attribute of fiber quality bestowing additional strength to the plant.

Bambusa balcooa; Fiber; Receptor like cytoplasmic kinase; SCAR marker; Serine-threonine; Kinase; Leucine rich repeat domain; Kinase domain