Trehalose and associated metabolites are part of the sugar signalling system in plants and have profound effects on development. Disruption of the TREHALOSE 6-PHOSPHATE SYNTHASE (TPS1) gene in Arabidopsis results in delayed embryo growth, altered cell wall morphology and carbon metabolism and abortion at the torpedo stage. Here we investigate the role of the TPS1 gene in post-embryonic development using two approaches. In the first we use the seed-specific ABI3 promoter to drive the TPS1 cDNA during embryo development, resulting in rescue of the embryo-lethal tps1 phenotype. Lack of expression from the ABI3::TPS1 transgene in post-germinative tps1 seedlings results in severe growth arrest, accumulation of soluble sugars and starch and leads to an increase in expression of genes related to ABA signalling. In the second approach we use TILLING (targeted induced local lesions in genomes) to generate three weaker, non-embryo-lethal, alleles (tps1-11, tps1-12 and tps1-13) and use these to demonstrate that the TPS1 protein plays a key role in modulating trehalose 6-phosphate (T6P) levels in vegetative tissues of Arabidopsis. All three weaker alleles give a consistent phenotype of slow growth and delayed flowering. Germination of tps1-11, tps1-12 and tps1-13 is hypersensitive to ABA with the degree of hypersensitivity correlating with the decrease in T6P levels in the different alleles. Stomatal pore aperture is regulated by ABA, and this was found to be affected in tps1-12. Our results show that the TPS1 gene product plays an essential role in regulating the growth of vegetative as well as embryogenic tissue in a mechanism involving ABA and sugar metabolism.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.