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, 107 (1), 125-130

Improved Performance of Transgenic Fructan-Accumulating Tobacco Under Drought Stress


Improved Performance of Transgenic Fructan-Accumulating Tobacco Under Drought Stress

EAH. Pilon-Smits et al. Plant Physiol.


Fructans are polyfructose molecules produced by approximately 15% of the flowering plant species. It is possible that, in addition to being a storage carbohydrate, fructans have other physiological roles. Owing to their solubility they may help plants survive periods of osmotic stress induced by drought or cold. To investigate the possible functional significance of fructans, use was made of transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plants that accumulate bacterial fructans and hence possess an extra sink for carbohydrate. Biomass production was analyzed during drought stress with the use of lines differing only in the presence of fructans. Fructan-producing tobacco plants performed significantly better under polyethylene-glycol-mediated drought stress than wild-type tobacco. The growth rate of the transgenic plants was significantly higher (+55%), as were fresh weight (+33%) and dry weight (+59%) yields. The difference in weight was observed in all organs and was particularly pronounced in roots. Under unstressed control conditions the presence of fructans had no significant effect on growth rate and yield. Under all conditions the total nonstructural carbohydrate content was higher in the transgenic plants. We conclude that the introduction of fructans in this non-fructan-producing species mediates enhanced resistance to drought stress.

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