The CYP2E1 protein belongs to the P450 enzymes family and plays an important role in the metabolism of small molecular and organic pollutants. In this study we generated CYP2E1 transgenic plants of Petunia using Agrobacterium rhizogenes K599. PCR analysis confirmed that the regenerated plants contained the CYP2E1 transgene and the rolB gene of the Ri plasmid. Southern blotting revealed the presence of multiple copies of CYP2E1 in the genome of transgenic plants. Fluorescent quantitative PCR revealed exogenous CYP2E1 gene expression in CYP2E1 transgenic plants at various levels, whereas no like expression was detected in either GUS transgenic plants or wild-types. The absorption of benzene and toluene by transgenic plants was analyzed through quantitative gas chromatography. Transgenic plants with high CYP2E1 expression showed a significant increase in absorption capacity of environmental benzene and toluene, compared to control GUS transgenic and wild type plants. Furthermore, these plants also presented obvious improved resistance to formaldehyde. This study, besides being the first to reveal that the CYP2E1 gene enhances plant resistance to formaldehyde, also furnishes a new method for reducing pollutants, such as benzene, toluene and formaldehyde, by using transgenic flowering horticultural plants.
Keywords: CYP2E1 gene; Petunia hybrida; benzene; formaldehyde; toluene.