Over-expression of LeNCED1 in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) with the rbcS3C promoter allows recovery of lines that accumulate very high levels of abscisic acid and exhibit severe phenotypes

Plant Cell Environ. 2008 Jul;31(7):968-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2008.01812.x. Epub 2008 Mar 27.


Previous work where 9-cis-epoxycarotenoid dioxygenase (NCED) was over-expressed using the constitutive Gelvin Superpromoter resulted in mild increases in abscisic acid (ABA) accumulation, accompanied by stomatal closure and increased water-use efficiency (WUE), but with apparently little impact on long-term biomass production. However, one of the negative effects of the over-expression of NCED using constitutive promoters in tomato was increased seed dormancy. Here we report the use of the rbcS3C promoter, from a gene encoding the small subunit of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco), to drive LeNCED1 transgene expression in tomato in a light-responsive and circadian manner. In comparison to the constitutive promoter, the rbcS3C promoter allowed the generation of transgenic plants with much higher levels of ABA accumulation in leaves and sap, but the effect on seed dormancy was diminished. These plants displayed the expected reductions in stomatal conductance and CO(2) assimilation, but they also exhibited a severe set of symptoms that included perturbed cotyledon release from the testa, increased photobleaching in young seedlings, substantially reduced chlorophyll and carotenoid content, interveinal leaf flooding, and greatly reduced growth. These symptoms illustrate adverse consequences of long-term, very high ABA accumulation. Only more moderate increases in ABA biosynthesis are likely to be useful in the context of agriculture. Implications are discussed for the design of transgenic 'high ABA' plants that exhibit increased WUE but have minimal negative phenotypic effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / metabolism*
  • Dioxygenases
  • Genes, Plant
  • Germination
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / enzymology*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / genetics
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / physiology
  • Oxygenases / genetics
  • Oxygenases / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Proteins
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Ribulose-Bisphosphate Carboxylase / genetics*
  • Transgenes


  • Plant Proteins
  • Abscisic Acid
  • Oxygenases
  • Dioxygenases
  • 9-cis-epoxy-carotenoid dioxygenase
  • Ribulose-Bisphosphate Carboxylase