The expression of a sucrose-phosphate synthase (SPS) gene from maize (Zea mays, a monocotyledon) in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum, a dicotyledon) resulted in marked increases in extractable SPS activity in the light and the dark. Diurnal modulation of the native tomato SPS activity was found. However, when the maize enzyme was present the tomato leaf cells were unable to regulate its activation state. No detrimental effects were observed and total dry matter production was unchanged. However, carbon allocation within the plants was modified such that in shoots it increased, whereas in roots it decreased. There was, therefore, a change in the shoot:root dry weight ratio favoring the shoot. This was positively correlated with increased SPS activity in leaves. SPS was a major determinant of the amount of starch in leaves as well as sucrose. There was a strong positive correlation between the ratio of sucrose to starch and SPS activity in leaves. Therefore, SPS activity is a major determinant of the partitioning of photosynthetically fixed carbon in the leaf and in the whole plant. The photosynthetic rate in air was not significantly increased as a result of elevated leaf SPS activity. However, the light- and CO2-saturated rate of photosynthesis was increased by about 20% in leaves expressing high SPS. In addition, the temporary enhancement of the photosynthetic rate following brief exposures to low light was increased in the high SPS plants relative to controls. We conclude that the level of SPS in the leaves plays a pivotal role in carbon partitioning. Furthermore, high SPS levels have the potential to boost photosynthetic rates under favorable conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science