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Keywords:

  • antisense;
  • Calvin cycle;
  • leaf growth;
  • phenotypic plasticity;
  • sedoheptulose-1;
  • 7-bisphosphatase

ABSTRACT

The effects of reduced SBPase activity on growth and development were examined in a set of transgenic tobacco plants produced using an antisense construct driven by the ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase, small subunit promoter. Photosynthetic carbon assimilation rates and carbohydrate levels in source leaves were decreased in the antisense plants. Growth rate and total shoot biomass were reduced in the SBPase antisense plants, even in plants where SBPase activity was reduced by only 25%. Floral biomass also decreased in response to reductions in SBPase activity and the onset of flowering was delayed by 5–10 d. This is the first demonstration of a link between reproductive biomass and reductions in Calvin cycle enzyme activity using antisense plants. Furthermore, unexpected changes in the growth and development of the antisense plants were evident. Small reductions in SBPase activity (above 50% wild type) resulted in shorter plants with only a small decrease in stem biomass and specific leaf area. In contrast, plants with larger reductions in SBPase activity had an increase in specific leaf area and attained heights similar to that of the wild-type plants but with a much reduced stem biomass, largely due to a decrease in xylem tissue. This bi-modal response of growth to reductions in SBPase activity has similarities to changes in leaf and stem anatomy and morphology that accompany light acclimation.