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J Exp Bot. 2003 Aug;54(389):1813-20. Epub 2003 Jun 18.

Elevated sucrose-phosphate synthase activity in transgenic tobacco sustains photosynthesis in older leaves and alters development.

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Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.


Constitutive over-expression of a maize sucrose-phosphate synthase (SPS) gene in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) had major effects on leaf carbohydrate budgets with consequences for whole plant development. Transgenic tobacco plants flowered earlier and had greater flower numbers than wild-type plants. These changes were not linked to modified source leaf carbon assimilation or carbon export, although sucrose to starch ratios were significantly higher in leaves expressing the transgene. The youngest and oldest leaves of plants over-expressing SPS had up to 10-fold wild-type maximal extractable SPS activity, but source leaf SPS activities were only 2-3 times greater in these lines than in the wild type. In the oldest leaves, where the expression of the transgene led to the most marked enhancement in SPS activity, photosynthesis was also increased. It was concluded that these increases in the capacity for sucrose synthesis and carbon assimilation, particularly in older leaves, accelerate the whole plant development and increase the abundance of flowers without substantial changes in the overall shoot biomass.

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