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Modulation of carbon and nitrogen metabolism, and of nitrate reductase, in untransformed and transformed Nicotiana plumbaginifolia during CO2 enrichment of plants grown in pots and in hydroponic culture

Ferrario-Mery, S., Thibaud, M.C., Betsche, T., Valadier, M.H., Foyer, C.H.
Planta 1997 v.202 no.4 pp. 510-521
Nicotiana plumbaginifolia, transgenic plants, nitrate reductase, beta-glucuronidase, carbon nitrogen ratio, hydroponics, shoots, dry matter accumulation, starch, sucrose, leaves, nitrates, glutamine, enzyme activity, messenger RNA, metabolism, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, container-grown plants, chemical constituents of plants, histochemistry
Transformed plants of Nicotiana plumbaginifolia Viv. constitutively expressing nitrate reductase (35S-NR) or beta-glucuronidase (35S-GUS) and untransformed controls were grown for two weeks in a CO2-enriched atmosphere. Whereas CO2 enrichment (1000 microliter.l-1) resulted in an increase in the carbon (C) to nitrogen (N) ratio of both the tobacco lines grown in pots with vermiculite, the C/N ratio was only slightly modified when plants were grown in hydroponic culture in high CO2 compared to those grown in air. Constitutive nitrate reductase (NR) expression per se did not change the C/N ratio of the shoots or roots. Biomass accumulation was similar in both types of plant when hydroponic or pot-grown material, grown in air or high CO2, were compared. Shoot dry matter accumulation was primarily related to the presence of stored carbohydrate (starch and sucrose) in the leaves. In the potgrown tobacco, growth at elevated CO2 levels caused a concomitant decrease in the N content of the leaves involving losses in NO3(-) and amino acid levels. In contrast, the N content and composition were similar in all plants grown in hydroponic culture. The 35S-NR plants grown in air had higher foliar maximum extractable NR activities and increased glutamine levels (on a chlorophyll or protein basis) than the untransformed controls. These increases were maintained following CO2 enrichment when the plants were grown in hydroponic culture, suggesting that an increased flux through nitrogen assimilation was possible in the 35S-NR plants. Under CO2 enrichment the NR activation state in the leaves was similar in all plants. When the 35S-NR plants were grown in pots, however, foliar NR activity and glutamine content fell in the 35S-NR transformants to levels similar to those of the untransformed controls. The differences in NR activity between untransformed and 35S-NR leaves were much less pronounced in the hydroponic than in the pot-grown material but the difference in total extractable NR activity was more marked following CO2 enrichment. Foliar NR message levels were decreased by CO2 enrichment in all growth conditions but this was much more pronounced in pot-grown material than in that grown hydroponically. Since beta-glucuronidase (GUS) activity and message levels in 35S-GUS plants grown under the same conditions of CO2 enrichment (to test the effects of CO2 enrichment on the activity of the 35S promoter) were found to be constant, we conclude that NR message turnover was specifically accelerated in the 35S-NR plants as well as in the untransformed controls as a result of CO2 enrichment. The molecular and metabolic signals involved in increased NR message and protein turnover are not known but possible effectors include NO3(-), glutamine and asparagine. We conclude that plants grown in hydroponic culture have greater access to N than those grown in pots. Regardless of the culture method, CO2 enrichment has a direct effect on NR mRNA stability.