The QQS orphan gene of Arabidopsis modulates carbon and nitrogen allocation in soybean
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The genome of each species contains as high as 8% of genes that are uniquely present in that species. Little is known about the functional significance of these so-called species specific or orphan genes. The Arabidopsis thaliana gene Qua-Quine Starch (QQS) is species specific. Here, we show that altering QQS expression in Arabidopsis affects carbon partitioning to both starch and protein. We hypothesized QQS may be conserved in a feature other than primary sequence, and as such could function to impact composition in another species. To test the potential of QQS in affecting composition in an ectopic species, we introduced QQS into soybean. Soybean T1 lines expressing QQS have up to 80% decreased leaf starch and up to 60% increased leaf protein; T4 generation seeds from field-grown plants contain up to 13% less oil, while protein is increased by up to 18%. These data broaden the concept of QQS as a modulator of carbon and nitrogen allocation, and demonstrate that this species-specific gene can affect the seed composition of an agronomic species thought to have diverged from Arabidopsis 100 million years ago.
This article is from Plant Biotechnology Journal 13 (2015): 177, doi: 10.1111/pbi.12238. Posted with permission.