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Title: Increased drought tolerance in plants engineered for low lignin and low xylan content

We previously developed several strategies to engineer plants to produce cost-efficient biofuels from plant biomass. Engineered Arabidopsis plants with low xylan and lignin content showed normal growth and improved saccharification efficiency under standard growth conditions. However, it remains to be determined whether these engineered plants perform well under drought stress, which is the primary source of abiotic stress in the field. Upon exposing engineered Arabidopsis plants to severe drought, we observed better survival rates in those with a low degree of xylan acetylation, low lignin, and low xylan content compared to those in wild-type plants. Increased pectic galactan content had no effect on drought tolerance. The drought-tolerant plants exhibited low water loss from leaves, and drought-responsive genes (RD29A, RD29B, DREB2A) were generally up-regulated under drought stress, which did not occur in the well-watered state. When compared with the wild type, plants with low lignin due to expression of QsuB, a 3-dehydroshikimate dehydratase, showed a stronger response to abscisic acid (ABA) in assays for seed germination and stomatal closure. The low-lignin plants also accumulated more ABA in response to drought than the wild-type plants. On the contrary, the drought tolerance in the engineered plants with low xylan content and low xylanmore » acetylation was not associated with differences in ABA content or response compared to the wild type. Surprisingly, we found a significant increase in galactose levels and sugar released from the low xylan-engineered plants under drought stress. This work shows that plants engineered to accumulate less lignin or xylan are more tolerant to drought and activate drought responses faster than control plants. This is an important finding because it demonstrates that modification of secondary cell walls does not necessarily render the plants less robust in the environment, and it shows that substantial changes in biomass composition can be achieved without compromising plant resilience.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [4] ;  [5] ; ORCiD logo [4]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Joint BioEnergy Inst. (JBI) and Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division; Nanjing Agricultural Univ. (China). College of Life Sciences
  2. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Joint BioEnergy Inst. (JBI) and Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division
  3. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Joint BioEnergy Inst. (JBI) and Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division; Univ. Paris-Saclay, Cachan (France)
  4. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Joint BioEnergy Inst. (JBI) and Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division; Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). Dept. of Plant and Microbial Biology
  5. Nanjing Agricultural Univ. (China). College of Life Sciences
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-05CH11231
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Biotechnology for Biofuels
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 11; Journal Issue: 1; Related Information: © 2018 The Author(s).; Journal ID: ISSN 1754-6834
Publisher:
BioMed Central
Research Org:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); China Scholarship Council (CSC)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES; 09 BIOMASS FUELS; drought tolerance; abscisic acid; cell walls; lignin; xylan; biofuel; synthetic biology; Arabidopsis thaliana
OSTI Identifier:
1465462

Yan, Jingwei, Aznar, Aude, Chalvin, Camille, Birdseye, Devon S., Baidoo, Edward E. K., Eudes, Aymerick, Shih, Patrick M., Loqué, Dominique, Zhang, Aying, and Scheller, Henrik V.. Increased drought tolerance in plants engineered for low lignin and low xylan content. United States: N. p., Web. doi:10.1186/s13068-018-1196-7.
Yan, Jingwei, Aznar, Aude, Chalvin, Camille, Birdseye, Devon S., Baidoo, Edward E. K., Eudes, Aymerick, Shih, Patrick M., Loqué, Dominique, Zhang, Aying, & Scheller, Henrik V.. Increased drought tolerance in plants engineered for low lignin and low xylan content. United States. doi:10.1186/s13068-018-1196-7.
Yan, Jingwei, Aznar, Aude, Chalvin, Camille, Birdseye, Devon S., Baidoo, Edward E. K., Eudes, Aymerick, Shih, Patrick M., Loqué, Dominique, Zhang, Aying, and Scheller, Henrik V.. 2018. "Increased drought tolerance in plants engineered for low lignin and low xylan content". United States. doi:10.1186/s13068-018-1196-7. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1465462.
@article{osti_1465462,
title = {Increased drought tolerance in plants engineered for low lignin and low xylan content},
author = {Yan, Jingwei and Aznar, Aude and Chalvin, Camille and Birdseye, Devon S. and Baidoo, Edward E. K. and Eudes, Aymerick and Shih, Patrick M. and Loqué, Dominique and Zhang, Aying and Scheller, Henrik V.},
abstractNote = {We previously developed several strategies to engineer plants to produce cost-efficient biofuels from plant biomass. Engineered Arabidopsis plants with low xylan and lignin content showed normal growth and improved saccharification efficiency under standard growth conditions. However, it remains to be determined whether these engineered plants perform well under drought stress, which is the primary source of abiotic stress in the field. Upon exposing engineered Arabidopsis plants to severe drought, we observed better survival rates in those with a low degree of xylan acetylation, low lignin, and low xylan content compared to those in wild-type plants. Increased pectic galactan content had no effect on drought tolerance. The drought-tolerant plants exhibited low water loss from leaves, and drought-responsive genes (RD29A, RD29B, DREB2A) were generally up-regulated under drought stress, which did not occur in the well-watered state. When compared with the wild type, plants with low lignin due to expression of QsuB, a 3-dehydroshikimate dehydratase, showed a stronger response to abscisic acid (ABA) in assays for seed germination and stomatal closure. The low-lignin plants also accumulated more ABA in response to drought than the wild-type plants. On the contrary, the drought tolerance in the engineered plants with low xylan content and low xylan acetylation was not associated with differences in ABA content or response compared to the wild type. Surprisingly, we found a significant increase in galactose levels and sugar released from the low xylan-engineered plants under drought stress. This work shows that plants engineered to accumulate less lignin or xylan are more tolerant to drought and activate drought responses faster than control plants. This is an important finding because it demonstrates that modification of secondary cell walls does not necessarily render the plants less robust in the environment, and it shows that substantial changes in biomass composition can be achieved without compromising plant resilience.},
doi = {10.1186/s13068-018-1196-7},
journal = {Biotechnology for Biofuels},
number = 1,
volume = 11,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {7}
}

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