Main content area

GhbHLH18 negatively regulates fiber strength and length by enhancing lignin biosynthesis in cotton fibers

Gao, Zhengyin, Sun, Wenjie, Wang, Jun, Zhao, Chunyan, Zuo, Kaijing
Plant science 2019 v.286 pp. 7-16
Gossypium hirsutum, biosynthesis, cell walls, cellulose, coniferyl alcohol, fiber quality, genes, leaves, lignin, lint cotton, promoter regions, seed coat, strength (mechanics), tobacco, transcription (genetics), transcription factors, transcriptomics
Cotton fibers are developed epidermal cells of the seed coat and contain large amounts of cellulose and minor lignin-like components. Lignin in the cell walls of cotton fibers effectively provides mechanical strength and is also presumed to restrict fiber elongation and secondary cell wall synthesis. To analyze the effect of lignin and lignin-like phenolics on fiber quality and the transcriptional regulation of lignin synthesis in cotton fibers, we characterized the function of a bHLH transcription factor, GhbHLH18, during fiber elongation stage. GhbHLH18 knock-down plants have longer and stronger fibers, and accumulate less lignin-like phenolics in mature cotton fibers than control plants. By mining public transcriptomic data for developing fibers, we discovered that GhbHLH18 is coexpressed with most lignin synthesis pathway genes. Furthermore, we showed that GhbHLH18 strongly binds to the E-box in the promoter region of GhPER8 and activates its expression. Transient over expression of GhPER8 protein in tobacco leaves significantly decreased the content of coniferyl alcohol and sinapic alcohol—the substrate respectively for G-lignin and S-lignin biosynthesis. These results suggest that GhbHLH18 is negatively associated with fiber quality by activating peroxidase-mediated lignin metabolism, thus the paper represents an alternative strategy to improve fiber quality.