Genetic interactions underlying the biosynthesis and inhibition of β-diketones in wheat and their impact on glaucousness and cuticle permeability.PLoS One. 2013; 8(1):e54129.Plos
Cuticular wax composition greatly impacts plant responses to dehydration. Two parallel pathways exist in Triticeae for manipulating wax composition: the acyl elongation, reduction, and decarbonylation pathway that is active at the vegetative stage and yields primary alcohols and alkanes, and the β-diketone pathway that predominates at the reproductive stage and synthesizes β-diketones. Variation in glaucousness during the reproductive stage of wheat is mainly controlled by the wax production genes, W1 and W2, and wax inhibitor genes, Iw1 and Iw2. Little is known about the metabolic and physiological effects of the genetic interactions among these genes and their roles in shifting wax composition during plant development. We characterized the effect of W1, W2, Iw1, and Iw2 and analyzed their interaction using a set of six near-isogenic lines (NILs) by metabolic, molecular and physiological approaches. Loss of functional alleles of both W genes or the presence of either Iw gene depletes β-diketones and results in the nonglaucous phenotype. Elimination of β-diketones is compensated for by an increase in aldehydes and primary alcohols in the Iw NILs. Accordingly, transcription of CER4-6, which encodes an alcohol-forming fatty acyl-CoA reductase, was elevated 120-fold in iw1Iw2. CER4-6 was transcribed at much higher levels in seedlings than in adult plants, and showed little difference between the glaucous and nonglaucous NILs, suggesting that Iw2 counteracts the developmental repression of CER4-6 at the reproductive stage. While W1 and W2 redundantly function in β-diketone biosynthesis, a combination of both functional alleles led to the β-diketone hydroxylation. Consistent with this, transcription of MAH1-9, which encodes a mid-chain alkane hydroxylase, increased seven-fold only in W1W2. In parallel with the hydroxyl-β-diketone production patterns, glaucousness was intensified and cuticle permeability was reduced significantly in W1W2 compared to the other NILs. This suggests that both W1 and W2 are required for enhancing drought tolerance.