Transcriptome mining, functional characterization, and phylogeny of a large terpene synthase gene family in spruce (Picea spp.)

Keeling, Christopher I.; Weisshaar, Sabrina; Ralph, Steven G.; Jancsik, Sharon; Hamberger, Britta; Dullat, Harpreet K.; Bohlmann, Jörg
January 2011
BMC Plant Biology;2011, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p43
Academic Journal
Background: In conifers, terpene synthases (TPSs) of the gymnosperm-specific TPS-d subfamily form a diverse array of mono-, sesqui-, and diterpenoid compounds, which are components of the oleoresin secretions and volatile emissions. These compounds contribute to defence against herbivores and pathogens and perhaps also protect against abiotic stress. Results: The availability of extensive transcriptome resources in the form of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and full-length cDNAs in several spruce (Picea) species allowed us to estimate that a conifer genome contains at least 69 unique and transcriptionally active TPS genes. This number is comparable to the number of TPSs found in any of the sequenced and well-annotated angiosperm genomes. We functionally characterized a total of 21 spruce TPSs: 12 from Sitka spruce (P. sitchensis), 5 from white spruce (P. glauca), and 4 from hybrid white spruce (P. glauca × P. engelmannii), which included 15 monoterpene synthases, 4 sesquiterpene synthases, and 2 diterpene synthases. Conclusions: The functional diversity of these characterized TPSs parallels the diversity of terpenoids found in the oleoresin and volatile emissions of Sitka spruce and provides a context for understanding this chemical diversity at the molecular and mechanistic levels. The comparative characterization of Sitka spruce and Norway spruce diterpene synthases revealed the natural occurrence of TPS sequence variants between closely related spruce species, confirming a previous prediction from site-directed mutagenesis and modelling.


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