Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Pinpoint the Regulator of Phenylalanine Synthesis in Maritime Pine

November 29, 2017

The regulation of phenylalanine metabolism is important, especially in conifers, a long-lived species that use large amounts of carbon in wood. In this study, María Belén Pascual from Universitario de Teatinos in Spain studied the maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) transcription factor PpNAC1, and found that it is a main regulator of phenylalanine production.

PpNAC1 was found to be expressed in the secondary xylem and compression wood of adult maritime pine trees. Silencing of PpNAC1 in P. pinaster resulted in the alteration of the stem vascular pattern and the downregulation of several genes associated with cell wall synthesis. Further analysis revealed that PpNAC1 is able to activate its own expression as well as the PpMyb4 promoter, while the PpMyb4 protein activates the PpMyb8 gene, a regulator of phenylalanine and lignin synthesis in maritime pine.

Knowledge of the mechanisms of controlling wood formation is of great importance in tree biology and paves the way for biotechnology applications in conifers.

For more information on this study, read the article in Plant Biotechnology Journal.