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Silencing leaf sorbitol synthesis alters long-distance partitioning and apple fruit quality

  • Gianni Teo
  • Yasuo Suzuki
  • Sandie L. Uratsu
  • Bruce Lampinen
  • Nichole Ormonde
  • William K. Hu
  • Ted M. DeJong
  • Abhaya M. Dandekar
National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
Nov 28, 2006
  • Biology


Sorbitol and sucrose are major products of photosynthesis distributed in apple trees (Malus domestica Borkh. cv. “Greensleeves”) that affect quality in fruit. Transgenic apple plants were silenced or up-regulated for sorbitol-6-phosphate dehydrogenase by using the CaMV35S promoter to define the role of sorbitol distribution in fruit development. Transgenic plants with suppressed sorbitol-6-phosphate dehydrogenase compensated by accumulating sucrose and starch in leaves, and morning and midday net carbon assimilation rates were significantly lower. The sorbitol to sucrose ratio in leaves was reduced by ≈90% and in phloem exudates by ≈75%. The fruit accumulated more glucose and less fructose, starch, and malic acid, with no overall differences in weight and firmness. Sorbitol dehydrogenase activity was reduced in silenced fruit, but activities of neutral invertase, vacuolar invertase, cell wall-bound invertase, fructose kinase, and hexokinase were unaffected. Analyses of transcript levels and activity of enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism throughout fruit development revealed significant differences in pathways related to sorbitol transport and breakdown. Together, these results suggest that sorbitol distribution plays a key role in fruit carbon metabolism and affects quality attributes such as sugar–acid balance and starch accumulation.

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