Crop Biotech Update

Overexpression of AtSHN1 in Mulberry Reduces Postharvest Water Loss in Leaves

April 6, 2017

Mulberry (Morus species) leaves are the sole food for silkworms (Bombyx mori). Abiotic stresses significantly decrease mulberry productivity and postharvest water loss from leaves affect silkworm growth and cocoon yield. Leaf surface properties of mulberry help regulate water loss through the cuticular layer. Indian researchers, led by R. S. Sajeevan from University of Agricultural Sciences, overexpressed AtSHN1, a gene associated with epicuticular wax biosynthesis from Arabidopsis, to increase leaf surface wax in mulberry.

Transgenic mulberry plants displayed dark green shiny appearance with increased leaf surface wax content. Analysis showed the changes in the pattern of surface wax deposition as well as the significant change in wax composition in the transgenic mulberries. The increased wax content altered the leaf surface properties, with the transgenics showing significant improvement in leaf moisture retention capacity. Silkworm bioassay also did not find any undesirable effects on larval growth and cocoon yield.

This study proved that overexpression of the AtSHN1 gene can reduce the postharvest water loss in mulberry by modifying leaf surface wax.

For more on this study, read the article in Frontiers in Plant Science.