Date of this Version
Published in Planta 246 (2017), pp. 1097–1107. doi 10.1007/s00425-017-2753-1
Main conclusion — The expression of a barley alanine aminotransferase gene impacts agronomic outcomes in a C3 crop, wheat.
The use of nitrogen-based fertilizers has become one of the major agronomic inputs in crop production systems. Strategies to enhance nitrogen assimilation and flux in planta are being pursued through the introduction of novel genetic alleles. Here an Agrobacterium-mediated approach was employed to introduce the alanine aminotransferase from barley (Hordeum vulgare), HvAlaAT, into wheat (Triticum aestivum) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), regulated by either constitutive or root preferred promoter elements. Plants harboring the transgenic HvAlaAT alleles displayed increased alanine aminotransferase (alt) activity. The enhanced alt activity impacted height, tillering and significantly boosted vegetative biomass relative to controls in wheat evaluated under hydroponic conditions, where the phenotypic outcome across these parameters varied relative to time of year study was conducted. Constitutive expression of HvAlaAT translated to elevation in wheat grain yield under field conditions. In sorghum, expression of HvAlaAT enhanced enzymatic activity, but no changes in phenotypic outcomes were observed. Taken together these results suggest that positive agronomic outcomes can be achieved through enhanced alt activity in a C3 crop, wheat. However, the variability observed across experiments under greenhouse conditions implies the phenotypic outcomes imparted by the HvAlaAT allele in wheat may be impacted by environment.