Transformation of Arabidopsis with the codA gene for choline oxidase enhances freezing tolerance of plants

Authors

  • Atsushi Sakamoto,

    1. Department of Regulation Biology, National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki 444-8585, Japan, and
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  • Roberto Valverde,

    1. Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-7304, USA
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    • Present address: Centro de Investigaciones Agronomicas, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica.

  • Alia,

    1. Department of Regulation Biology, National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki 444-8585, Japan, and
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    • Present address: Department of Biophysics, Huygens Laboratory, Leiden University, Niels Bohrweg 2, PO Box 9504, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands.

  • Tony H. H. Chen,

    1. Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-7304, USA
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  • Norio Murata

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Regulation Biology, National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki 444-8585, Japan, and
      *For correspondence (fax +81 564 54 4866; e-mail murata@nibb.ac.jp).
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*For correspondence (fax +81 564 54 4866; e-mail murata@nibb.ac.jp).

Summary

Arabidopsis thaliana was transformed with the codA gene from Arthrobacter globiformis, which encodes choline oxidase, the enzyme that synthesizes glycinebetaine from choline. The transformation enabled the plants to accumulate glycinebetaine in chloroplasts, and significantly enhanced the freezing tolerance of plants. Furthermore, the photosynthetic machinery of transformed plants was more tolerant to freezing stress than that of wild-type plants. Exogenous application of glycinebetaine also increased the freezing tolerance of wild-type plants, suggesting that the presence of glycinebetaine in transformed plants had enhanced their ability to tolerate freezing stress. Northern blotting analysis revealed that the enhancement of freezing tolerance was not related to the expression of four cold-regulated genes. These results suggest that engineering of the biosynthesis of glycinebetaine by transformation with the codA gene might be an effective method for enhancing the freezing tolerance of plants.

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