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Open Access Research

RNAi-mediated abrogation of trehalase expression does not affect trehalase activity in sugarcane

Brian P O’Neill12, Matthew P Purnell12, Lars K Nielsen1 and Stevens M Brumbley123*

Author Affiliations

1 Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia

2 BSES Limited, PO Box 86, Indooroopilly, Queensland, 4068, Australia

3 Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle #305220, Denton, TX, 76203-5017, USA

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SpringerPlus 2012, 1:74  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-1-74

Published: 21 December 2012

Abstract

To engineer trehalose metabolism in sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids) two transgenes were introduced to the genome: trehalose-6-phosphate synthase- phosphatase (TPSP), to increase trehalose biosynthesis and an RNAi transgene specific for trehalase, to abrogate trehalose catabolism. In RNAi-expressing lines trehalase expression was abrogated in many plants however no decrease in trehalase activity was observed. In TPSP lines trehalase activity was significantly higher. No events of co-integration of TPSP and RNAi transgenes were observed. We suggest trehalase activity is essential to mitigate embryonic lethal effects of trehalose metabolism and discuss the implications for engineering trehalose metabolism.

Keywords:
RNA-interference; Saccharum; Sucrose-derivatives; Sugarcane biofactory; Trehalase, Trehalose