Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published in Planta (2008) 229:115–127.


Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.). Moench) BMR-6 and BMR-12 encode cinnamylalcohol dehydrogenase and caffeic acid-O-methyltransferase, respectively. We have evaluated the impact of two bmr alleles, bmr-6 and bmr-12, respectively, on soluble and wall-bound aromatics in near isogenic, wild-type (WT), bmr-6, bmr-12 and double-mutant (DM; bmr-6 and bmr-12) plants in two genetic backgrounds, RTx430 and Wheatland. Immunoblots confirmed that COMT protein was essentially absent in bmr-12 and DM plants, but was present in bmr-6 and WT plants. In contrast, although CAD activity was not detected in bmr-6 and DM plants, proteins cross-reacting to anti-CAD sera were found in stem extracts from all genotypes. In both sorghum backgrounds, WT plants had lowest amounts of free aromatics, higher levels of cell wall-bound pCA and FA esters and guaiacyl (G), syringyl (S), and phydroxyphenyl (H) lignins. Soluble aromatics and cell wall phenolic ester content in Wheatland DM plants resembled that of Wheatland bmr-6 plants, whereas in the RTx430 background, levels of these components in the DM plants more closely resembled those observed in bmr-12 plants. In both backgrounds, bmr-6 plants exhibited reduced levels of G, S, and H lignins relative to WT, and increased incorporation of G-indene into lignin. In bmr-12 plants, there was greater incorporation of G- and 5-hydroxyguaiacyl (5- OHG) lignin into cell walls. Histochemical staining of internode sections from Wheatland plants indicated that apparent lignification of cortical sclerenchyma and vascular bundle fibers was greatest and most uniform in WT plants. Relative staining intensity of these tissues was decreased in bmr-6, followed by bmr-12 plants. DM plants exhibited poor staining of cortical sclerenchyma and vascular bundle fibers.