Up-regulation of 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate synthase enhances production of essential oils in transgenic spike lavender

Plant Physiol. 2006 Nov;142(3):890-900. doi: 10.1104/pp.106.086355. Epub 2006 Sep 15.


Spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia) is an aromatic shrub cultivated worldwide for the production of essential oils. The major constituents of these oils are monoterpenes, which are obtained from isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate precursors through the plastidial methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway and/or the cytosolic mevalonate pathway. 1-Deoxy-D-xylulose-5-P synthase (DXS) catalyzes the first step of the MEP pathway. A cDNA coding for the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) DXS was constitutively expressed in spike lavender. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analyses revealed that transgenic plants accumulated significantly more essential oils compared to controls (from 101.5% to 359.0% and from 12.2% to 74.1% yield increase compared to controls in leaves and flowers, respectively). T(0) transgenic plants were grown for 2 years, self-pollinated, and the T(1) seeds obtained. The inheritance of the DXS transgene was studied in the T(1) generation. The increased essential oil phenotype observed in the transgenic T(0) plants was maintained in the progeny that inherited the DXS transgene. Total chlorophyll and carotenoid content in DXS progenies that inherited the transgene depended on the analyzed plant, showing either no variation or a significant decrease in respect to their counterparts without the transgene. Transgenic plants had a visual phenotype similar to untransformed plants (controls) in terms of morphology, growth habit, flowering, and seed germination. Our results demonstrate that the MEP pathway contributes to essential oil production in spike lavender. They also demonstrate that the DXS enzyme plays a crucial role in monoterpene precursor biosynthesis and, thus, in essential oil production in spike lavender. In addition, our results provide a strategy to increase the essential oil production in spike lavender by metabolic engineering of the MEP pathway without apparent detrimental effects on plant development and fitness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carotenoids / metabolism
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Lavandula / genetics*
  • Lavandula / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oils, Volatile / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Transferases / metabolism*
  • Up-Regulation*


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Chlorophyll
  • Carotenoids
  • Transferases
  • deoxyxylulose-5-phosphate synthase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U27099