The glucose-6-phosphate/phosphate antiporter GPT1 is a major route of entry of carbon into non-photosynthetic plastids. To discover its importance in oilseeds, we used a seed-specific promoter to generate lines of Arabidopsis thaliana with reduced levels of GPT1 in developing embryos. Strong reductions resulted in seed abortion at the end of the globular stage of embryo development, when proplastids in normal embryos differentiate and acquire chlorophyll. Seed abortion was partly dependent on the light level during silique development. Embryos in seeds destined for abortion failed to undergo normal morphogenesis and were 'raspberry-like' in appearance. They had ultrastructural and biochemical defects including proliferation of peroxisomes and starch granules, and altered expression of genes involved in starch turnover and the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway. We propose that GPT1 is necessary for early embryo development because it catalyses import into plastids of glucose-6-phosphate as the substrate for NADPH generation via the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway. We suggest that low NADPH levels during plastid differentiation and chlorophyll synthesis may result in generation of reactive oxygen species and triggering of embryo cell death.
© 2010 John Innes Centre. Journal compilation © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.