Expression of Arabidopsis phytochelatin synthase in Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) plants enhances tolerance for Cd and Zn

Ksenija Gasic, Schuyler S Korban
Planta 2007, 225 (5): 1277-85
Phytochelatins (PCs) are heavy metal binding peptides that play an important role in sequestration and detoxification of heavy metals in plants. In this study, our goal was to develop transgenic plants with increased tolerance for and accumulation of heavy metals from soil by expressing an Arabidopsis thaliana AtPCS1 gene, encoding phytochelatin synthase (PCS), in Indian mustard (Brassica juncea L.). A 35S promoter fused to a FLAG-tagged AtPCS1 cDNA was expressed in Indian mustard, and transgenic lines, designated pc lines, were evaluated for tolerance to and accumulation of Cd and Zn. Transgenic plants with moderate AtPCS1 expression levels showed significantly higher tolerance to Cd and Zn stress, but accumulated significantly less Cd and Zn than wild type plants in both shoot and root tissues. However, transgenic plants with highest expression of the transgene did not exhibit enhanced Cd and Zn tolerance. Shoots of Cd-treated pc plants had significantly higher levels of phytochelatins and thiols than wild-type plants. Significantly lower concentrations of gluthatione in Cd-treated shoot and root tissues of transgenic plants were observed. Moderate expression levels of phytochelatin synthase improved the ability of Indian mustard to tolerate certain levels of heavy metals, but at the same time did not increase the accumulation potential for Cd and Zn.

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