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Title: Microbial-type terpene synthase genes occur widely in nonseed land plants, but not in seed plants

Here, the vast abundance of terpene natural products in nature is due to enzymes known as terpene synthases (TPSs) that convert acyclic prenyl diphosphate precursors into a multitude of cyclic and acyclic carbon skeletons. Yet the evolution of TPSs is not well understood at higher levels of classification. Microbial TPSs from bacteria and fungi are only distantly related to typical plant TPSs, whereas genes similar to microbial TPS genes have been recently identified in the lycophyte Selaginella moellendorffii. The goal of this study was to investigate the distribution, evolution, and biochemical functions of microbial terpene synthase-like ( MTPSL) genes in other plants. By analyzing the transcriptomes of 1,103 plant species ranging from green algae to flowering plants, putative MTPSL genes were identified predominantly from nonseed plants, including liverworts, mosses, hornworts, lycophytes, and monilophytes. Directed searching for MTPSL genes in the sequenced genomes of a wide range of seed plants confirmed their general absence in this group. Among themselves, MTPSL proteins from nonseed plants form four major groups, with two of these more closely related to bacterial TPSs and the other two to fungal TPSs. Two of the four groups contain a canonical aspartate-rich “DDxxD” motif. The third group has amore » “DDxxxD” motif, and the fourth group has only the first two “DD” conserved in this motif. Upon heterologous expression, representative members from each of the four groups displayed diverse catalytic functions as monoterpene and sesquiterpene synthases, suggesting these are important for terpene formation in nonseed plants.« less
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  1. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
  2. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States); Shaanxi Normal Univ., Xian (China)
  3. Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena (Germany)
  4. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States); Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hangzhou (China)
  5. Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale, IL (United States)
  6. Monash Univ., Melbourne, VIC (Australia)
  7. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  8. Beijing Genomics Institute - Shenzhen, Shenzhen (China)
  9. Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States)
  10. Uppsala Univ., Uppsala (Sweden)
  11. Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC (Canada)
  12. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY (United States)
  13. Beijing Genomics Institute - Shenzhen, Shenzhen (China); Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, AB (Canada)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 113; Journal Issue: 43; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program
Country of Publication:
United States
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; 60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES; terpene synthase; specialized metabolism; nonseed plant; gene evolution
OSTI Identifier: