• Open Access

Monoterpene engineering in a woody plant Eucalyptus camaldulensis using a limonene synthase cDNA


*(fax +81 774 38 3623; e-mail yazaki@rish.kyoto-u.ac.jp)


Metabolic engineering aimed at monoterpene production has become an intensive research topic in recent years, although most studies have been limited to herbal plants including model plants such as Arabidopsis. The genus Eucalyptus includes commercially important woody plants in terms of essential oil production and the pulp industry. This study attempted to modify the production of monoterpenes, which are major components of Eucalyptus essential oil, by introducing two expression constructs containing Perilla frutescens limonene synthase (PFLS) cDNA, whose gene products were designed to be localized in either the plastid or cytosol, into Eucalyptus camaldulensis. The expression of the plastid-type and cytosol-type PFLS cDNA in transgenic E. camaldulensis was confirmed by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Gas chromatography with a flame ionization detector analyses of leaf extracts revealed that the plastidic and cytosolic expression of PFLS yielded 2.6- and 4.5-times more limonene than that accumulated in wild-type E. camaldulensis, respectively, while the ectopic expression of PFLS had only a small effect on the emission of limonene from the leaves of E. camaldulensis. Surprisingly, the high level of PFLS in Eucalyptus was accompanied by a synergistic increase in the production of 1,8-cineole and α-pinene, two major components of Eucalyptus monoterpenes. This genetic engineering of monoterpenes demonstrated a new potential for molecular breeding in woody plants.