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Reporter‐based forward genetic screen to identify bundle sheath anatomy mutants in A. thaliana

Döring, Florian, Billakurthi, Kumari, Gowik, Udo, Sultmanis, Stefanie, Khoshravesh, Roxana, Das Gupta, Shipan, Sage, Tammy L., Westhoff, Peter
Theplant journal 2019 v.97 no.5 pp. 984-995
Arabidopsis thaliana, C3 plants, C4 photosynthesis, bundle sheath cells, crops, ethyl methanesulfonate, genomics, green fluorescent protein, luciferase, mutants, reporter genes
The evolution of C₄ photosynthesis proceeded stepwise with each small step increasing the fitness of the plant. An important pre‐condition for the introduction of a functional C₄ cycle is the photosynthetic activation of the C₃ bundle sheath by increasing its volume and organelle number. Therefore, to engineer C₄ photosynthesis into existing C₃ crops, information about genes that control the bundle sheath cell size and organelle content is needed. However, very little information is known about the genes that could be manipulated to create a more C₄–like bundle sheath. To this end, an ethylmethanesulfonate (EMS)‐based forward genetic screen was established in the Brassicaceae C₃ species Arabidopsis thaliana. To ensure a high‐throughput primary screen, the bundle sheath cells of A. thaliana were labeled using a luciferase (LUC68) or by a chloroplast‐targeted green fluorescent protein (sGFP) reporter using a bundle sheath specific promoter. The signal strengths of the reporter genes were used as a proxy to search for mutants with altered bundle sheath anatomy. Here, we show that our genetic screen predominantly identified mutants that were primarily affected in the architecture of the vascular bundle, and led to an increase in bundle sheath volume. By using a mapping‐by‐sequencing approach the genomic segments that contained mutated candidate genes were identified.