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J Exp Bot. 2008;59(11):2969-77. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ern158. Epub 2008 Jul 18.

Antisense suppression of an acid invertase gene (MAI1) in muskmelon alters plant growth and fruit development.

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  • 1College of Horticulture Science and Engineering, Shandong Agricultural University, Tai'an, Shandong 271018, PR China.


To unravel the roles of soluble acid invertase in muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.), its activity in transgenic muskmelon plants was reduced by an antisense approach. For this purpose, a 1038 bp cDNA fragment of muskmelon soluble acid invertase was expressed in antisense orientation behind the 35S promoter of the cauliflower mosaic virus. The phenotype of the antisense plants clearly differed from that of control plants. The transgenic plant leaves were markedly smaller, and the stems were obviously thinner. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that degradation of the chloroplast membrane occurred in transgenic leaves and the number of grana in the chloroplast was significantly reduced, suggesting that the slow growth and weaker phenotype of the transgenic plants may be due to damage to the chloroplast ultrastructure, which in turn resulted in a decrease in net photosynthetic rate. The sucrose concentration increased and levels of acid invertase decreased in transgenic fruit, and the fruit size was 60% smaller than that of the control. In addition, transgenic fruit reached full-slip at 25 d after pollination (DAP), approximately 5 d before the control fruit (full-slip at 30 DAP), and this accelerated maturity correlated with a dramatic elevation of ethylene production at the later stages of fruit development. Together, these results suggest that soluble acid invertase not only plays an important role during muskmelon plant and fruit development but also controls the sucrose content in muskmelon fruit.

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