PloS one

Regulated expression of a cytokinin biosynthesis gene IPT delays leaf senescence and improves yield under rainfed and irrigated conditions in canola (Brassica napus L.).

PMID 25602960


Delay of leaf senescence through genetic modification can potentially improve crop yield, through maintenance of photosynthetically active leaves for a longer period. Plant growth hormones such as cytokinin regulate and delay leaf senescence. Here, the structural gene (IPT) encoding the cytokinin biosynthetic enzyme isopentenyltransferase was fused to a functionally active fragment of the AtMYB32 promoter and was transformed into canola plants. Expression of the AtMYB32xs::IPT gene cassette delayed the leaf senescence in transgenic plants grown under controlled environment conditions and field experiments conducted for a single season at two geographic locations. The transgenic canola plants retained higher chlorophyll levels for an extended period and produced significantly higher seed yield with similar growth and phenology compared to wild type and null control plants under rainfed and irrigated treatments. The yield increase in transgenic plants was in the range of 16% to 23% and 7% to 16% under rainfed and irrigated conditions, respectively, compared to control plants. Most of the seed quality parameters in transgenic plants were similar, and with elevated oleic acid content in all transgenic lines and higher oil content and lower glucosinolate content in one specific transgenic line as compared to control plants. The results suggest that by delaying leaf senescence using the AtMYB32xs::IPT technology, productivity in crop plants can be improved under water stress and well-watered conditions.