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, 91 (1), 203-12

Manipulating Membrane Fatty Acid Compositions of Whole Plants With tween-Fatty Acid Esters


Manipulating Membrane Fatty Acid Compositions of Whole Plants With tween-Fatty Acid Esters

W B Terzaghi. Plant Physiol.


This paper describes a method for manipulating plant membrane fatty acid compositions without altering growth temperature or other conditions. Tween-fatty acid esters carrying specific fatty acids were synthesized and applied to various organs of plants growing axenically in glass jars. Treated plants incorporated large amounts of exogenous fatty acids into all acylated membrane lipids detected. Fatty acids were taken up by both roots and leaves. Fatty acids applied to roots were found in leaves, while fatty acids applied to leaves appeared in both leaves higher on the plant and in roots, indicating translocation (probably in the phloem). Foliar application was most effective; up to 20% of membrane fatty acids of leaves above the treated leaf and up to 40% of root membrane fatty acids were exogenously derived. Plants which took up exogenous fatty acids changed their patterns of fatty acid synthesis such that ratios of saturated to unsaturated fatty acids remained essentially unaltered. Fatty acid uptake was most extensively studied in soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr.), but was also observed in other species, including maize (Zea mays L.), mung beans (Vigna radiata L.), peas (Pisum sativum L.), petunia (Petunia hybrida L.) and tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.). Potential applications of this system include studying internal transport of fatty acids, regulation of fatty acid and membrane synthesis, and influences of membrane fatty acid composition on plant physiology.

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