Enhanced Stress Resistance in Sweet Potatoes Through Modified Gene Technology

Jenn Hoskins
8th July, 2024

Enhanced Stress Resistance in Sweet Potatoes Through Modified Gene Technology

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Shanxi Agricultural University found that overexpressing the △NIbTPS1 gene in sweet potatoes improves their tolerance to drought and salinity
  • The genetically modified sweet potatoes showed better photosynthetic efficiency and higher activity of antioxidative enzymes, reducing oxidative damage
  • The improved stress tolerance was linked to enhanced photosynthesis and antioxidative enzyme activity, not changes in trehalose levels
Abiotic stress, such as drought and high salinity, poses significant challenges to crop production worldwide. Sweet potato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam], a vital crop ranking seventh in annual global production, is particularly susceptible to these adverse environmental conditions. To address this, researchers at Shanxi Agricultural University have focused on the trehalose-6-phosphate synthase (TPS) enzyme, which is crucial for synthesizing trehalose in plants and plays a role in stress responses[1]. In their study, the researchers created N-terminal truncated IbTPS1 gene (△NIbTPS1) overexpression lines in both Arabidopsis thaliana and sweet potato. This approach aimed to enhance the plants' tolerance to abiotic stress, specifically drought and salinity. The results were promising, showing that the transgenic A. thaliana had significantly higher germination rates, root elongation, and fresh weight compared to wild-type plants when subjected to salt and mannitol-induced drought treatments. This study builds on previous findings that have highlighted the importance of trehalose in plant stress responses. For instance, earlier research on maize demonstrated that TPS and trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase (TPP) genes are crucial for drought resistance, with resistant maize lines showing significant induction of these genes under drought stress[2]. Similarly, overexpression of AtTPS1 in Arabidopsis led to enhanced dehydration tolerance, despite only a small increase in trehalose levels[3]. These studies collectively underscore the potential of modifying trehalose metabolism to improve stress tolerance in plants. The sweet potato study further revealed that overexpressing △NIbTPS1 improved photosynthetic efficiency and boosted the activity of antioxidative enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, peroxidase, catalase, and ascorbate peroxidase. These enzymes play a critical role in mitigating oxidative stress, which is often exacerbated under drought and high salinity conditions. Notably, the transgenic sweet potato lines exhibited reduced levels of malondialdehyde and O2∙-, indicating lower oxidative damage. Interestingly, while the overexpression of △NIbTPS1 enhanced stress tolerance, it did not affect the expression of the trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase gene IbTPP or trehalose concentrations. This finding suggests that the improved stress tolerance may be attributed more to the enhanced photosynthetic efficiency and antioxidative enzyme activity rather than changes in trehalose levels per se. This aligns with previous research indicating that trehalose metabolism is intricately linked with other crucial hormone and sugar-induced signaling pathways, influencing plant responses to environmental changes[4]. The study's results contribute to a growing body of evidence that trehalose and its biosynthetic enzymes play a pivotal role in plant stress responses, offering potential pathways for developing more resilient crop varieties. In conclusion, the research conducted by Shanxi Agricultural University demonstrates that overexpressing the △NIbTPS1 gene can significantly improve the stress tolerance of sweet potato to drought and salinity. By enhancing photosynthetic efficiency and the antioxidative enzyme system, this genetic modification offers a promising strategy for mitigating the impacts of abiotic stress on this essential crop. These findings not only enhance our understanding of the functions of the △NIbTPS1 gene and trehalose in stress response mechanisms but also pave the way for future research aimed at improving crop resilience to environmental challenges.

GeneticsBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) N-terminal truncated trehalose-6-phosphate synthase 1 gene (△NIbTPS1) enhances the tolerance of sweet potato to abiotic stress.

Published 6th July, 2024


Related Studies

2) Characterization of Trehalose-6-phosphate Synthase and Trehalose-6-phosphate Phosphatase Genes and Analysis of its Differential Expression in Maize (Zea mays) Seedlings under Drought Stress.


3) The Arabidopsis trehalose-6-P synthase AtTPS1 gene is a regulator of glucose, abscisic acid, and stress signaling.

Journal: Plant physiology, Issue: Vol 136, Issue 3, Nov 2004

4) Fine tuning of trehalose biosynthesis and hydrolysis as novel tools for the generation of abiotic stress tolerant plants.


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