Sucrose is the main transported form of carbon in several plant species, including Populus species. Sucrose metabolism in developing wood has therefore a central role in carbon partitioning to stem biomass. Half of the sucrose-derived carbon is in the form of fructose, but metabolism of fructose has received little attention as a factor in carbon partitioning to walls of wood cells. We show that RNAi-mediated reduction of FRK2 activity in developing wood of hybrid aspen (Populus tremula × tremuloides) led to the accumulation of soluble neutral sugars and a decrease in hexose phosphates and UDP-glucose, indicating that carbon flux to cell-wall polysaccharide precursors is decreased. Reduced FRK2 activity also led to thinner fiber cell walls with a reduction in the proportion of cellulose. No pleiotropic effects on stem height or diameter were observed. The results establish a central role for FRK2 activity in carbon flux to wood cellulose.
© 2012 The Authors. The Plant Journal © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.