Functional characterization of nine Norway Spruce TPS genes and evolution of gymnosperm terpene synthases of the TPS-d subfamily

Plant Physiol. 2004 Aug;135(4):1908-27. doi: 10.1104/pp.104.042028. Epub 2004 Aug 13.


Constitutive and induced terpenoids are important defense compounds for many plants against potential herbivores and pathogens. In Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst), treatment with methyl jasmonate induces complex chemical and biochemical terpenoid defense responses associated with traumatic resin duct development in stems and volatile terpenoid emissions in needles. The cloning of (+)-3-carene synthase was the first step in characterizing this system at the molecular genetic level. Here we report the isolation and functional characterization of nine additional terpene synthase (TPS) cDNAs from Norway spruce. These cDNAs encode four monoterpene synthases, myrcene synthase, (-)-limonene synthase, (-)-alpha/beta-pinene synthase, and (-)-linalool synthase; three sesquiterpene synthases, longifolene synthase, E,E-alpha-farnesene synthase, and E-alpha-bisabolene synthase; and two diterpene synthases, isopimara-7,15-diene synthase and levopimaradiene/abietadiene synthase, each with a unique product profile. To our knowledge, genes encoding isopimara-7,15-diene synthase and longifolene synthase have not been previously described, and this linalool synthase is the first described from a gymnosperm. These functionally diverse TPS account for much of the structural diversity of constitutive and methyl jasmonate-induced terpenoids in foliage, xylem, bark, and volatile emissions from needles of Norway spruce. Phylogenetic analyses based on the inclusion of these TPS into the TPS-d subfamily revealed that functional specialization of conifer TPS occurred before speciation of Pinaceae. Furthermore, based on TPS enclaves created by distinct branching patterns, the TPS-d subfamily is divided into three groups according to sequence similarities and functional assessment. Similarities of TPS evolution in angiosperms and modeling of TPS protein structures are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / chemistry
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / genetics*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Cycadopsida / classification
  • Cycadopsida / enzymology
  • Cycadopsida / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Picea / enzymology
  • Picea / genetics*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases
  • terpene synthase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AY473619
  • GENBANK/AY473620
  • GENBANK/AY473621
  • GENBANK/AY473622
  • GENBANK/AY473623
  • GENBANK/AY473624
  • GENBANK/AY473625
  • GENBANK/AY473626
  • GENBANK/AY473627