Overexpression of a glutamine synthetase gene affects growth and development in sorghum.
Additional Document Info
Nitrogen is a primary macronutrient in plants, and nitrogen fertilizers play a critical role in crop production and yield. In this study, we investigated the effects of overexpressing a glutamine synthetase (GS) gene on nitrogen metabolism, and plant growth and development in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L., Moench). GS catalyzes the ATP dependent reaction between ammonia and glutamate to produce glutamine. A 1,071 bp long coding sequence of a sorghum cytosolic GS gene (Gln1) under the control of the maize ubiquitin (Ubq) promoter was introduced into sorghum immature embryos by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Progeny of the transformants exhibited higher accumulation of the Gln1 transcripts and up to 2.2-fold higher GS activity compared to the non-transgenic controls. When grown under optimal nitrogen conditions, these Gln1 transgenic lines showed greater tillering and up to 2.1-fold increase in shoot vegetative biomass. Interestingly, even under greenhouse conditions, we observed a seasonal component to both these parameters and the grain yield. Our results, showing that the growth and development of sorghum Gln1 transformants are also affected by N availability and other environmental factors, suggest complexity of the relationship between GS activity and plant growth and development. A better understanding of other control points and the ability to manipulate these will be needed to utilize the transgenic technology to improve nitrogen use efficiency of crop plants.