RNA interference-based gene silencing of phytoene synthase impairs growth, carotenoids, and plastid phenotype in Oncidium hybrid orchid.

PMID 25221736


Phytoene synthase (PSY) is the first rate-limiting regulatory enzyme in the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway. In order to modify the floral color pattern by reducing carotenoid contents, a phytoene synthase-RNAi construct was delivered into protocorm-like body (PLB) of Oncidium hybrid orchid. The transgenic orchids show down-regulated level of PSY and geranyl synthase gene. They displayed semi-dwarf phenotype and brilliant green leaves. The microscopic anatomy revealed development-arrested plastids with rare grana. The total carotenoid content was decreased and the efficiency of the photosynthetic electron transport was declined. The chlorophyll level and the expression of chlorophyll biosynthetic genes, such as OgGLUTR and OgCS were dramatically reduced. HPLC analysis showed that the endogenous level of gibberellic acid and abscisic acid in the dwarf transformants are 4-fold lower than in wild type plants. In addition, chilling tolerance of the transgenic Oncidium plants was reduced. The data showed that down-regulation of PSY resulted in alterations of gene expression in enzymes involved in many metabolic pathways, such as carotenoid, gibberellic acid, abscisic acid and chlorophyll biosynthetic pathway as well as causes predominant defects in plant growth and development.