Type-B monogalactosyldiacylglycerol synthases are involved in phosphate starvation-induced lipid remodeling, and are crucial for low-phosphate adaptation

Plant J. 2009 Jan;57(2):322-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03692.x. Epub 2008 Sep 20.


Mono- and digalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG and DGDG, respectively) constitute the bulk of membrane lipids in plant chloroplasts. Mutant analyses in Arabidopsis have shown that these galactolipids are essential for chloroplast biogenesis and photoautotrophic growth. Moreover, these non-phosphorous lipids are proposed to participate in low-phosphate (Pi) adaptations. Under Pi-limited conditions, a drastic accumulation of DGDG occurs concomitantly with a large reduction in membrane phospholipids, suggesting that plants substitute DGDG for phospholipids during Pi starvation. Previously, we reported that among the three MGDG synthase genes (MGD1, MGD2 and MGD3), the type-B MGD2 and MGD3 are upregulated in parallel with DGDG synthase genes during Pi starvation. Here, we describe the identification and characterization of T-DNA insertional mutants of Arabidopsis type-B MGD genes. Under Pi-starved conditions, the mgd3-1 mutant showed a drastic reduction in DGDG accumulation, particularly in the root, indicating that MGD3 is the main isoform responsible for DGDG biosynthesis in Pi-starved roots. Moreover, in the roots of mgd2 mgd3 plants, Pi stress-induced accumulation of DGDG was almost fully abolished, showing that type-B MGD enzymes are essential for membrane lipid remodeling in Pi-starved roots. Reductions in fresh weight, root growth and photosynthetic performance were also observed in these mutants under Pi-starved conditions. These results demonstrate that Pi stress-induced membrane lipid remodeling is important in plant growth during Pi starvation. The widespread distribution of type-B MGD genes in land plants suggests that membrane lipid remodeling mediated by type-B MGD enzymes is a potent adaptation to Pi deficiency for land plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / enzymology*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Galactolipids / metabolism*
  • Galactosyltransferases / genetics
  • Galactosyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Phosphates / metabolism*
  • Plant Roots / enzymology
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • RNA, Plant / genetics


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Galactolipids
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Phosphates
  • RNA, Plant
  • T-DNA
  • digalactosyldiacylglycerol
  • Galactosyltransferases
  • 1,2-diacylglycerol 3-beta-galactosyltransferase