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Analysis of seasonal expression levels of wheat fructan exohydrolase (FEH) genes regulating fructan metabolism involved in wintering ability

Meguro-Maoka, Ayano, Yoshida, Midori
Journal of plant physiology 2016 v.191 pp. 54-62
Triticum aestivum, ambient temperature, autumn, cold tolerance, cultivars, energy, fructans, genes, hydrolysis, kestose, leaves, metabolism, seasonal variation, snow, snowpack, spring, tissues, winter, winter wheat
In northern regions, winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) accumulates fructan during cold-acclimation in autumn and freeze-acclimation in early winter. The content of fructan in wheat crown tissues is associated with both freezing tolerance and snow mold resistance, and expression levels of fructan synthesis genes in leaf and crown tissue are correlated with both changes and varietal differences in fructan accumulation levels of wheat during cold- and freeze-acclimation. Fructan hydrolysis activity has also been thought be involved in wintering ability of wheat. Since several kinds of gene homologs encoding fructan exohydrolase (FEH: EC., 154) with different substrate specificities have recently been cloned from wheat, changes in transcript levels of wheat FEH genes in field-grown wheat cultivars from autumn to spring were analyzed to investigate regulation of seasonal changes in fructan content. The seasonal expression patterns of five genes encoding 1-FEH, 6-FEH (and Wfh-sm3), 6&1-FEH and 6-KEH (kestose exohydrolase) varied. Among the five genes, only seasonal changes in the expression of wfh-sm3, which codes an enzyme that is able to hydrolyze almost all components of fructan that has accumulated in hardened wheat tissues, were correlated with those changes in fructan contents. Moreover, the transcript levels of wfh-sm3 were low in snow mold-resistant cultivars that accumulate high levels of fructan. The transcript levels of 6-FEH increased with decrease in ambient temperatures and the levels decreased under snow. The analysis indicated that cooperative expression of 6-FEH and 1-FEH genes might be related to the seasonal changes and varietal difference in mono- and disaccharide contents. This study showed that the coordinated expression of FEH genes in wheat was related to the regulation of water-soluble carbohydrate accumulation from autumn to early winter and fructan consumption under snow cover as well as energy supply and that wheat FEHs also play an important role in the varietal difference in freezing tolerance and snow mold resistance. In particular, the expression of wfh-sm3 may regulate fructan metabolism associated with tolerance for wintering stresses.