Author(s): Eliana Gonzales-Vigil & Shawn Mansfield
Published in: The Plant Cell (July 20, 2017)
Exploiting Natural Variation to Uncover an Alkene Biosynthetic Enzyme in Poplar
The plant cuticle represents the primary interface between the plant and environment, serving several important functions, including protection against desiccation, and defense against pest and pathogen infection, to mention only a few.
In this study, we describe a screen of a natural population of Populus trichocarpa, a tree of major ecological and economical importance, that revealed that their cuticular waxes are composed primarily of alkanes and alkenes. However, it was also apparent that natural mutants existed that did not accumulate alkenes.
Using this population and transcriptome sequencing we identified a putative candidate gene, that we further cloned and from which we generated recombinant protein. Biochemical assessment of the recombinant protein clearly showed that the protein specifically elongates monounsaturated fatty acids, likely using oleic acid as the primary substrate.
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