Flavan-3-ols are the major flavonoids present in tea (Camellia sinensis) leaves. These are known to have antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties in vitro. Flavanone 3-hydroxylase is considered to be an important enzyme of flavonoid pathway leading to accumulation of flavan-3-ols in tea. Expression analysis revealed the upregulation in transcript levels of C. sinensis flavanone 3-hydroxylase (CsF3H) encoding gene under salt stress. In this study, the biotechnological potential of CsF3H was evaluated by gene overexpression in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum cv. Xanthi). Overexpression of CsF3H cDNA increased the content of flavan-3-ols in tobacco and conferred tolerance to salt stress and fungus Alternaria solani infection. Transgenic tobaccos were observed for increase in primary root length, number of lateral roots, chlorophyll content, antioxidant enzyme expression and their activities. Also, they showed lesser malondialdehyde content and electrolyte leakage compared to control tobacco plants. Further, transgenic plants produced higher degree of pectin methyl esterification via decreasing pectin methyl esterase (PME) activity in roots and leaves under unstressed and salt stressed conditions. The effect of flavan-3-ols on pectin methyl esterification under salt stressed conditions was further validated through in vitro experiments in which non-transgenic (wild) tobacco seedlings were exposed to salt stress in presence of flavan-3-ols, epicatechin and epigallocatechin. The in vitro exposed seedlings showed similar trend of increase in pectin methyl esterification through decreasing PME activity as observed in CsF3H transgenic lines. Taken together, overexpression of CsF3H provided tolerance to salt stress and fungus A. solani infection to transgenic tobacco through improved antioxidant system and enhanced pectin methyl esterification.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 1, 2014
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