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Sci Rep. 2016 Dec 8;6:38742. doi: 10.1038/srep38742.

The sphingolipid biosynthetic enzyme Sphingolipid delta8 desaturase is important for chilling resistance of tomato.

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Key Laboratory of South China Agricultural Plant Molecular Analysis and Genetic Improvement &Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Applied Botany, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xingke Road 723, Tianhe District, Guangzhou 510650, China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19A Yuquan Road, Beijing 100049, China.
Leibniz-Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops Großbeeren/Erfurt e.V., Theodor-Echternmeyer-Weg 1, 14979 Großbeeren, Germany.
Institute of Nutritional Science, University of Potsdam, Arthur-Scheunert-Allee 114-116, 14558 Nuthetal, Germany.


The physiological functions of sphingolipids in animals have been intensively studied, while less attention has been paid to their roles in plants. Here, we reveal the involvement of sphingolipid delta8 desaturase (SlSLD) in the chilling resistance of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum cv. Micro-Tom). We used the virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) approach to knock-down SlSLD expression in tomato leaves, and then evaluated chilling resistance. Changes in leaf cell structure under a chilling treatment were observed by transmission electron microscopy. In control plants, SlSLD was highly expressed in the fruit and leaves in response to a chilling treatment. The degree of chilling damage was greater in SlSLD-silenced plants than in control plants, indicating that SlSLD knock-down significantly reduced the chilling resistance of tomato. Compared with control plants, SlSLD-silenced plants showed higher relative electrolytic leakage and malondialdehyde content, and lower superoxide dismutase and peroxidase activities after a chilling treatment. Chilling severely damaged the chloroplasts in SlSLD-silenced plants, resulting in the disruption of chloroplast membranes, swelling of thylakoids, and reduced granal stacking. Together, these results show that SlSLD is crucial for chilling resistance in tomato.

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