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Metabolic Engineering in Plants to Control Source/sink Relationship and Biomass Distribution

Description: Traditional methods like pruning and breeding have historically been used in crop production to divert photoassimilates to harvested organs, but molecular biotechnology is now poised to significantly increase yield by manipulating resource partitioning. It was hypothesized that metabolic engineering in targeted sink tissues can favor resource partitioning to increase harvest. Raffinose Family Oligosaccharides (RFOs) are naturally occurring oligosaccharides that are widespread in plants and are responsible for carbon transport, storage and protection against cold and drought stress. Transgenic plants (GRS47, GRS63) were engineered to generate and transport more RFOs through the phloem than the wild type plants. The transgenic lines produced more RFOs and the RFOs were also detected in their phloem exudates. But the 14CO2 labeling and subsequent thin layer chromatography analysis showed that the RFOs were most likely sequestered in an inactive pool and accumulate over time. Crossing GRS47 and GRS63 lines with MIPS1 plants (that produces more myo-inositol, a substrate in the RFO biosynthetic pathway) did not significantly increase the RFOs in the crossed lines. For future manipulation of RFO degradation in sink organs, the roles of the endogenous α-galactosidases were analyzed. The alkaline α-galactosidases (AtSIP1 and AtSIP2 in Arabidopsis) are most likely responsible for digesting RFOs in the cytoplasm and may influence the ability to manipulate RFO levels in engineered plants. Atsip1/2 (AtSIP1/AtSIP2 double-knockout plants) were generated and phenotypically characterized based on seed germination patterns, flowering time, and sugar content to observe the impact on RFO sugar levels. The observations and analysis from these lines provide a basis for further insight in the manipulation of resource allocation between source and sink tissues in plants for future research.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Lahiri, Ipsita
Partner: UNT Libraries

Interactions of N-Acylethanolamine Metabolism and Abscisic Acid Signaling in Arabidopsis Thaliana Seedlings

Description: N-Acylethanolamines (NAEs) are endogenous plant lipids hydrolyzed by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). When wildtype Arabidopsis thaliana seeds were germinated and grown in exogenous NAE 12:0 (35 µM and above), growth was severely reduced in a concentration dependent manner. Wildtype A. thaliana seeds sown on exogenous abscisic acid (ABA) exhibited similar growth reduction to that seen with NAE treatment. AtFAAH knockouts grew and developed similarly to WT, but AtFAAH overexpressor lines show markedly enhanced sensitivity to ABA. When low levels of NAE and ABA, which have very little effect on growth alone, were combined, there was a dramatic reduction in seedling growth in all three genotypes, indicating a synergistic interaction between ABA and NAE. Notably, this synergistic arrest of seedling growth was partially reversed in the ABA insensitive (abi) mutant abi3-1, indicating that a functional ABA signaling pathway is required for the full synergistic effect. This synergistic growth arrest results in an increased accumulation of NAEs, but no concomitant increase in ABA levels. The combined NAE and ABA treatment induced a dose-dependent increase in ABI3 transcript levels, which was inversely related to growth. The ABA responsive genes AtHVA22B and RD29B also had increased expression in both NAE and ABA treatment. The abi3-1 mutant showed no expression of ABI3 and AtHVA22B, but RD29B expression remained similar to wildtype seedlings, suggesting an alternate mechanism for NAE and ABA interaction. Taken together, these data suggest that NAE metabolism acts through ABI3-dependent and independent pathways in the negative regulation of seedling development.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Cotter, Matthew Q.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Anatomical and Morphological Responses of Cardiospermum Halicacabum L. (Balloon Vine), to Four Levels of Water Availability

Description: C. halicacabum (Sapindaceae) is an invasive plant that is considered a nuisance species in Texas riparian environments. Little is known of the tolerance of C. halicacabum to flooding and drought; however, this information may provide insight into the characteristics that contribute to C. halicacabum purported invasiveness. C. halicacabum seedlings (n = 92) were exposed to one of four levels of water availability (flooded, saturated, intermediate and dry) over six weeks under greenhouse conditions. Plant performance was affected by water availability; however, there was no effect on survivorship. Flooded and saturated plants exhibited morphological adaptations; producing adventitious roots, hypertrophy, and aerenchyma tissue. Morphological measures, anatomical responses, and patterns of biomass allocation all indicate that C. halicacabum is able to survive periodic inundation, perform in saturation, and establish and thrive on the drier end of a moisture gradient.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Dempsey, Matthew Anthony
Partner: UNT Libraries

FLP-mediated conditional loss of an essential gene to facilitate complementation assays

Description: Commonly, when it is desirable to replace an essential gene with an allelic series of mutated genes, or genes with altered expression patterns, the complementing constructs are introduced into heterozygous plants, followed by the selection of homozygous null segregants. To overcome this laborious and time-consuming step, the newly developed two-component system utilizes a site-specific recombinase to excise a wild-type copy of the gene of interest from transformed tissues. In the first component (the first vector), a wild-type version of the gene is placed between target sequences recognized by FLP recombinase from the yeast 2 μm plasmid. This construct is transformed into a plant heterozygous for a null mutation at the endogenous locus, and progeny plants carrying the excisable complementing gene and segregating homozygous knockout at the endogenous locus are selected. The second component (the second vector) carries the experimental gene along with the FLP gene. When this construct is introduced, FLP recombinase excises the complementing gene, leaving the experimental gene as the only functional copy. The FLP gene is driven by an egg apparatus specific enhancer (EASE) to ensure excision of the complementing cDNA in the egg cell and zygote following floral-dip transformation. The utility of this system is being tested using various experimental derivatives of the essential sucrose-proton symporter, AtSUC2, which is required for photoassimilate transport.
Date: December 2007
Creator: Ganesan, Savita
Partner: UNT Libraries

Metabolic Engineering of Raffinose-Family Oligosaccharides in the Phloem Reveals Alterations in Patterns of Carbon Partitioning and Enhances Resistance to Green Peach Aphid

Description: Phloem transport is along hydrostatic pressure gradients generated by differences in solute concentration between source and sink tissues. Numerous species accumulate raffinose-family oligosaccharides (RFOs) in the phloem of mature leaves to accentuate the pressure gradient between source and sinks. In this study, metabolic engineering was used to generate RFOs at the inception of the translocation stream of Arabidopsis thaliana, which transports predominantly sucrose. To do this, three genes, GALACTINOL SYNTHASE, RAFFINOSE SYNTHASE and STACHYOSE SYNTHASE, were expressed from promoters specific to the companion cells of minor veins. Two transgenic lines homozygous for all three genes (GRS63 and GRS47) were selected for further analysis. Sugars were extracted and quantified by high performance anion exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection (HPAEC-PAD), and 21-day old plants of both lines had levels of galactinol, raffinose, and stachyose approaching 50% of total soluble sugar. All three exotic sugars were also identified in phloem exudates from excised leaves of transgenic plants whereas levels were negligible in exudates from wild type leaves. Differences in starch accumulation or degradation between wild type and GRS63 and GRS47 lines were not observed. Similarly, there were no differences in vegetative growth between wild type and engineered plants, but engineered plants flowered earlier. Finally, since the sugar composition of the phloem translocation stream is altered in these plants, we tested for aphid feeding. When green peach aphids were given a choice between WT and transgenic plants, WT plants were preferred. When aphids were reared on only WT or only transgenic plants, aphid fecundity was reduced on the transgenic plants. When aphids were fed on artificial media with and without RFOs, aphid reproduction did not show differences, suggesting the aphid resistance is not a direct effect of the exotic sugars.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Cao, Te
Partner: UNT Libraries

Effect of Retting on Surface Chemistry and Mechanical Performance Interactions in Natural Fibers for High Performance Polymer Composites

Description: Sustainability through replacement of non-renewable fibers with renewable fibers is an ecological need. Impact of transportation costs from South-east Asia on the life cycle analysis of the composite is detrimental. Kenaf is an easily grown crop in America. Farm based processing involves placing the harvested crop in rivers and ponds, where retting of the fibers from the plant (separation into fibers) can take 2 weeks or more. The objective of this thesis is to analyze industrially viable processes for generating fibers and examine their synergistic impact on mechanical performance, surface topography and chemistry for functional composites. Comparison has been made with commercial and conventional retting process, including alkali retting, enzymatic retting, retting in river and pond water (retting occurs by natural microbial population) with controlled microbial retting. The resulting kenaf fibers were characterized by dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), Raman spectroscopy (FT-Raman), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), polarized optical microscopy (POM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) optical fluorescence microscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM) and carbohydrate analysis. DMA results showed that pectinase and microbe treated fibers have superior viscoelastic properties compared to alkali retting. XPS, Raman, FT-IR and biochemical analysis indicated that the controlled microbial and pectinase retting was effective in removing pectin, hemicellulose and lignin. SEM, optical microscopy and AFM analysis showed the surface morphology and cross sectional architecture were preserved in pectinase retting. Experimental results showed that enzymatic retting at 48 hours and controlled microbial retting at 72 hours yield uniform and superior quality fibers compared to alkali and natural retting process. Controlled microbial retting is an inexpensive way to produce quality fibers for polymer composite reinforcement.
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Date: May 2013
Creator: Ramesh, Dinesh
Partner: UNT Libraries

Identification of Three Symbiosome Targeting Domains in the MtENOD8 Protein and Cell-to-cell MtENOD8 mRNA Movement in Nodules

Description: The model legume, Medicago truncatula, is able to enter into a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, known as rhizobia. This relationship involves a carbon for nitrogen exchange in which the plant provides reduced carbon from photosynthesis in exchange for reduced, or “fixed” atmospheric nitrogen, which allows the plant to thrive in nitrogen depleted soils. Rhizobia infect and enter plant root organs, known as nodules, where they reside inside the plant cell in a novel organelle, known as the symbiosome where nitrogen fixation occurs. the symbiosome is enriched in plant proteins, however, little is known about the mechanisms that direct plant proteins to the symbiosome. Using the M. truncatula ENOD8 (MtENOD8) protein as a model to explore symbiosome protein targeting, 3-cis domains were identified within MtENOD8 capable of directing green fluorescent protein (GFP) to the symbiosome, including its N-terminal signal peptide (SP). the SP delivered GFP to the vacuole in the absence of nodules suggesting that symbiosome proteins share a common targeting pathway with vacuolar proteins. a time course analysis during nodulation indicated that there is a nodule specific redirection of MtENOD8-SP from the vacuole to the symbiosome in a MtNIP/LATD dependent manner. GFP expression by the MtENOD8 promoter revealed spatial discrepancy between promoter activity and protein localization. in situ localization of MtENOD8 mRNA showed localization to infected cells, where the protein is found, suggesting mRNA cell-to-cell movement. Expression of MtENOD8 in Arabidopsis showed that the SP did not direct GFP to the vacuole indicating that vacuolar targeting of MtENOD8’s SP may be legume specific. Taken together, the research presented here indicates that the MtENOD8 symbiosome protein has evolved redundant domains for targeting, which has part of a common pathway with vacuolar proteins. Observed spatial discrepancy between the MtENOD8 promoter and protein shows additional mechanisms of gene regulation through cell-to-cell mRNA ...
Date: May 2012
Creator: Meckfessel, Matthew Harold
Partner: UNT Libraries

9-Lipoxygenase Oxylipin Pathway in Plant Response to Biotic Stress

Description: The activity of plant 9-lipoxygenases (LOXs) influences the outcome of Arabidopsis thaliana interaction with pathogen and insects. Evidence provided here indicates that in Arabidopsis, 9-LOXs facilitate infestation by Myzus persicae, commonly known as the green peach aphid (GPA), a sap-sucking insect, and infection by the fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum. in comparison to the wild-type plant, lox5 mutants, which are deficient in a 9-lipoxygenase, GPA population was smaller and the insect spent less time feeding from sieve elements and xylem, thus resulting in reduced water content and fecundity of GPA. LOX5 expression is induced rapidly in roots of GPA-infested plants. This increase in LOX5 expression is paralleled by an increase in LOX5-synthesized oxylipins in the root and petiole exudates of GPA-infested plants. Micrografting experiments demonstrated that GPA population size was smaller on plants in which the roots were of the lox5 mutant genotype. Exogenous treatment of lox5 mutant roots with 9-hydroxyoctadecanoic acid restored water content and population size of GPA on lox5 mutants. Together, these results suggest that LOX5 genotype in roots is critical for facilitating insect infestation of Arabidopsis. in Arabidopsis, 9-LOX function is also required for facilitating infection by F. graminearum, which is a leading cause of Fusarium head blight (FHB) disease in wheat and other small grain crops. Loss of LOX1 and LOX5 function resulted in enhanced resistance to F. graminearum infection. Similarly in wheat, RNA interference mediated silencing of the 9-LOX homolog TaLpx1, resulted in enhanced resistance to F. graminearum. Experiments in Arabidopsis indicate that 9-LOXs promote susceptibility to this fungus by suppressing the activation of salicylic acid-mediated defense responses that are important for basal resistance to this fungus. the lox1 and lox5 mutants were also compromised for systemic acquired resistance (SAR), an inducible defense mechanism that is systemically activated throughout a plant in response to a ...
Date: May 2012
Creator: Nalam, Vamsi J.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Expression analysis of the fatty acid desaturase 2-4 and 2-3 genes from Gossypium hirsutum in transformed yeast cells and transgenic Arabidopsis plants.

Description: Fatty acid desaturase 2 (FAD2) enzymes are phosphatidylcholine desaturases occurring as integral membrane proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum membrane and convert monounsaturated oleic acid into polyunsaturated linoleic acid. The major objective of this research was to study the expression and function of two cotton FAD2 genes (the FAD2-3 and FAD2-4 genes) and their possible role in plant sensitivity to environmental stress, since plants may increase the polyunsaturated phospholipids in membranes under environmental stress events, such as low temperature and osmotic stress. Two FAD2 cDNA clones corresponding to the two FAD2 genes have been isolated from a cotton cDNA library, indicating both genes are truly expressed in cotton. Model yeast cells transformed with two cotton FAD2 genes were used to study the chilling sensitivity, ethanol tolerance, and growth rate of yeast cells. The expression patterns of the two FAD2 genes were analyzed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCR) and Western blot analyses in cotton plants under different treatment conditions. The coding regions of both FAD2 genes were inserted downstream from the CaMV 35S promoter in the pMDC gateway binary vector system. Five different FAD2/pMDC constructs were transformed into the Arabidopsis fad2 knockout mutant background, and multiple potential transgenic Arabidopsis plant lines harboring the cotton FAD2 genes were generated. The cotton FAD2 genes were amplified by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from the genomic DNAs isolated from the transgenic Arabidopsis T1 plant lines. Complementation of the putative transgenic Arabidopsis plants with the two cotton FAD2 genes was demonstrated by gas chromatography analyses of the fatty acid profiles of leaf tissues. The cellular localization of cotton FAD2-4 polypeptides with N-terminal green fluorescence protein (GFP) was visualized by confocal fluorescence microscopy. The phenotype of transgenic Arabidopsis plants transformed with the cotton FAD2-4 gene was compared to Arabidopsis knockout fad2 mutant plants and wild ...
Date: August 2008
Creator: Zhang, Daiyuan
Partner: UNT Libraries

In vitro Cultures of Morus alba for Enhancing Production of Phytoestrogens

Description: Plant estrogens have long been associated with health benefits. The potential of tissue culture techniques for the production of several secondary metabolites has been known for many years. Tissue cultures stimulate the production or induce the biosynthesis of novel compounds not found in the mature plant. Tissue culture of Morus alba, family Moraceae, is known to contain phytoestrogens, was established on plant-hormone supplemented Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium. Petiole and the stem tissue from mature trees were the best explants for initiation and proliferation of calli. The best callus proliferation was obtained on MS medium containing 1-napthalene acetic acid (1mg/ml) and benzylaminopurine (0.5mg/ml) for M. alba. Comparison of phytoestrogens of Moraceae species from in vivo and in vitro tissue isolation were carried out. The estrogenic activities of callus extracts were assayed in an estrogen-responsive yeast system expressing the human estrogen receptor alpha. Male callus extracts had higher estrogenic activity than male and female extracts from in vivo and in vitro tissues. Isolation and characterization of phytoestrogens from above tissues were carried out using solid phase extraction, high perfomance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry techniques. Biochanin A, an isoflavonoid, was isolated as one of the compounds in male callus extracts. Biochanin A has been known to have an antiestrogenic acitivity in mammals. Isoflavonoid compounds have been characterized as strong protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors in variety of animal cells. Isoflavones are structurally similar to estradiol, and display agonistic and antagonistic interactions with the estrogen receptor. Isoflavones possess therapeutic and preventive properties such as being used for postmenopausal osteoporosis, breast cancer, and inhibition of tumors.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Bakshi, Vibhu
Partner: UNT Libraries

Identification and characterization of an incomplete root hair elongation (IRE)-like gene in Medicago truncatula (L.) root nodules.

Description: Cloning and molecular characterization of new genes constitutes a useful approach in studying the symbiotic interactions between the model plant Medicago truncatula and Synorhizobium meliloti. Large numbers of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) available for Medicago truncatula, along with numerous cDNA, oligonucleotides, and Affimetrix DNA microarray chips, represent useful tools for gene discovery. In an attempt to identify a new gene that might be involved in the process of nodulation in Medicago truncatula, preliminary data reported by Fedorova et al. (2002), who identified 340 putative gene products or tentative consensus sequences (TCs) expressed only in nodules, was used. This research was focused on TC33166 (TC103185), which has 3 ESTs in the TC, and whose strongest BLASTX hit of TC103185 is the incomplete root hair elongation (IRE) protein kinase-like protein (NP_192429) from Arabidopsis thaliana. The Arabidopsis IRE gene is required for normal root hair growth, and a role in apical growth was suggested (Oyama et al., 2002). Infection thread growth can be looked at as an inward growth of the root hair. Thus, TC103185 was a good candidate for identifying a gene that may be involved in early events of nodulation. MtIRE (GenBank accession AC122727) is organized in 17 exons and 16 introns, similarly to the Arabidopsis IRE gene. MtIRE is a new member of the IRE family and it is a putative Ser/Thr protein kinase. MtIRE is a nodule- and flower-specific gene, suggesting that nodulation may have recruited it from other developmental processes. MtIRE is likely to be involved in the invasion process, or in the maturation of the symbiosome, or of the cells that contain rhizobia, rather than infection thread initiation and elongation or in nitrogen fixation. Nodule invasion precedes the onset of MtIRE expression and the expression pattern changes in time within the nodule. RNA interference results support MtIRE ...
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Date: May 2006
Creator: Pislariu, Catalina Iulia
Partner: UNT Libraries

Functional Characterization of Plant Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolases

Description: Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) terminates the endocannabinoid signaling pathway that regulates numerous neurobehavioral processes in animals by hydrolyzing a class of lipid mediators, N-acylethanolamines (NAEs). Recent identification of an Arabidopsis FAAH homologue (AtFAAH) and several studies, especially those using AtFAAH overexpressing and knock-out lines suggest that a FAAH-mediated pathway exists in plants for the metabolism of endogenous NAEs. Here, I provide evidence to support this concept by identifying candidate FAAH cDNA sequences in diverse plant species. NAE amidohydrolase assays confirmed that several of the proteins encoded by these cDNAs indeed catalyzed the hydrolysis of NAEs in vitro. Kinetic parameters, inhibition properties, and substrate specificities of the plant FAAH enzymes were very similar to those of mammalian FAAH. Five amino acid residues determined to be important for catalysis by rat FAAH were absolutely conserved within the plant FAAH sequences. Site-directed mutation of each of the five putative catalytic residues in AtFAAH abolished its hydrolytic activity when expressed in Escherichia coli. Contrary to overexpression of native AtFAAH in Arabidopsis that results in enhanced seedling growth, and in seedlings that were insensitive to exogenous NAE, overexpression of the inactive AtFAAH mutants showed no growth enhancement and no NAE tolerance. However, both active and inactive AtFAAH overexpressors displayed hypersensitivity to ABA, suggesting a function of the enzyme independent of its catalytic activity toward NAE substrates. Yeast two-hybrid screening identified Arg/Ser-rich zinc knuckle-containing protein as a candidate protein that physically and domain-specifically interacts with AtFAAH and its T-DNA knock-out Arabidopsis was hypersensitive to ABA to a degree similar to AtFAAH overexpressors. Taken together, AtFAAH appears to have a bifurcating function, via NAE hydrolysis and protein-protein interaction, to control Arabidopsis growth and interaction with phytohormone signaling pathways. These studies help to functionally define the group of enzymes that metabolize NAEs in plants, and further will ...
Date: December 2010
Creator: Kim, Sang-Chul
Partner: UNT Libraries

Role of N-Acylethanolamines in Plant Defense Responses: Modulation by Pathogens and Commercial Antimicrobial Stressors

Description: N-acyl ethanolamines (NAEs) are a class of lipids recently recognized as signaling molecules which are controlled, in part, by their degradation by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). On the basis of previous studies indicating increased NAE levels in a tobacco cell suspension-xylanase elicitor exposure system and the availability of FAAH mutants, overexpressor and knockout (OE and KO) genotypes in Arabidopsis thaliana, further roles of NAEs in A. thaliana plant defense was investigated. The commonly occurring urban antimicrobial contaminant triclosan (TCS) has been shown to suppress lipid signaling associated with plant defense responses. Thus, a second objective of this study was to determine if TCS exposure specifically interferes with NAE levels. No changes in steady state NAE profiles in A. thaliana-Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae and A. thaliana-flagellin (bacterial peptide, flg22) challenge systems were seen despite evidence that defense responses were activated in these systems. There was a significant drop in enoyl-ACP reductase (ENR) enzyme activity, which catalyzes the last step in the fatty acid biosynthesis pathway in plants, on exposure of the seedlings to TCS at 10 ppm for 24 h and decreased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production due to flg22 in long term exposure of 0.1 ppm and short term exposure of 5 ppm. However, these responses were not accompanied by significant changes in steady state NAE profiles.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Vadapalli, Vatsala
Partner: UNT Libraries

Studies on Plant-aphid Interactions: a Novel Role for Trehalose Metabolism in Arabidopsis Defense Against Green Peach Aphid

Description: Myzus persicae (Sülzer), commonly known as the green peach aphid (GPA), is a polyphagous insect that can infest over 100 families of economically important plants and is major pest for vegetable crops. This study utilizes the Arabidopsis-GPA model system with the aim to elucidate the role of the plant disaccharide trehalose in providing defense against GPA. This study demonstrates a novel role for TPS11 in providing defense against GPA. TPS11 expression was found to be transiently induced in Arabidopsis plants in response to GPA infestation and the TPS11 gene was required for curtailing GPA infestation. TPS11, which encodes for trehalose phosphate synthase and phosphatase activities, contributes to the transient increase in trehalose in the GPA infested tissues. This work suggests that TPS11-dependent trehalose has a signaling function in plant defense against GPA. in addition, trehalose also has a more direct role in curtailing GPA infestation on Arabidopsis. This work also shows that TPS11 is able to modulate both carbohydrate metabolism and plant defenses in response to GPA infestation. the expression of PAD4, an Arabidopsis gene required for phloem-based defenses against GPA, was found to be delayed in GPA infested tps11 mutant plants along with increased sucrose levels and lower starch levels as compared to the GPA infested wild type plants. This work provides clear evidence that starch metabolism in Arabidopsis is altered in response to GPA feeding and that TPS11-modulated increase in starch contributes to the curtailment of GPA infestation in Arabidopsis.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Singh, Vijay
Partner: UNT Libraries