Main content area

Increased Phloem Transport of S-Methylmethionine Positively Affects Sulfur and Nitrogen Metabolism and Seed Development in Pea Plants

Tan, Qiumin, Zhang, Lizhi, Grant, Jan, Cooper, Pauline, Tegeder, Mechthild
Plant physiology 2010 v.154 no.4 pp. 1886-1896
Pisum sativum, amino acid composition, amino acids, foods, gene expression, leaves, nitrogen, nitrogen metabolism, peas, phloem, phloem loading, protein content, roots, sap, seed dispersal, seed quality, seed set, seeds, sulfur, transgenic plants, transporters, xylem, yeasts
Seeds of grain legumes are important energy and food sources for humans and animals. However, the yield and quality of legume seeds are limited by the amount of sulfur (S) partitioned to the seeds. The amino acid S-methylmethionine (SMM), a methionine derivative, has been proposed to be an important long-distance transport form of reduced S, and we analyzed whether SMM phloem loading and source-sink translocation are important for the metabolism and growth of pea (Pisum sativum) plants. Transgenic plants were produced in which the expression of a yeast SMM transporter, S-Methylmethionine Permease1 (MMP1, YLL061W), was targeted to the phloem and seeds. Phloem exudate analysis showed that concentrations of SMM are elevated in MMP1 plants, suggesting increased phloem loading. Furthermore, expression studies of genes involved in S transport and metabolism in source organs, as well as xylem sap analyses, support that S uptake and assimilation are positively affected in MMP1 roots. Concomitantly, nitrogen (N) assimilation in root and leaf and xylem amino acid profiles were changed, resulting in increased phloem loading of amino acids. When investigating the effects of increased S and N phloem transport on seed metabolism, we found that protein levels were improved in MMP1 seeds. In addition, changes in SMM phloem loading affected plant growth and seed number, leading to an overall increase in seed S, N, and protein content in MMP1 plants. Together, these results suggest that phloem loading and source-sink partitioning of SMM are important for plant S and N metabolism and transport as well as seed set.