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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Consequences of transferring three sorghum genes for secondary metabolite (cyanogenic glucoside) biosynthesis to grapevine hairy roots.

A multigenic trait (biosynthesis of the secondary metabolite, dhurrin cyanogenic glucoside) was engineered de novo in grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.). This follows a recent report of transfer of the same trait to Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) using three genetic sequences from sorghum (Sorghum bicolor): two cytochrome P450-encoding cDNAs (CYP79A1 and CYP71E1) and a UDPG-glucosyltransferase-encoding cDNA (sbHMNGT). Here we describe the two-step process involving whole plant transformation followed by hairy root transformation, which was used to transfer the same three sorghum sequences to grapevine. Transgenic grapevine hairy root lines that accumulated transcript from none, one (sbHMNGT), two (CYP79A1 and CYP71E1) or all three transgenes were recovered and characterisation of these lines provided information about the requirements for dhurrin biosynthesis in grapevine. Only lines that accumulated transcripts from all three transgenes had significantly elevated cyanide potential (up to the equivalent of about 100 mg HCN kg(-1) fresh weight), and levels were highly variable. One dhurrin-positive line was tested and found to release cyanide upon maceration and can therefore be considered 'cyanogenic'. In in vitro dual co-culture of this cyanogenic hairy root line or an acyanogenic line with the specialist root-sucking, gall-forming, aphid-like insect, grapevine phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae, Fitch), there was no evidence for protection of the cyanogenic plant tissue from infestation by the insect. Consistently high levels of dhurrin accumulation may be required for this to occur. The possibility that endogenous grapevine gene expression is modulated in response to engineered dhurrin biosynthesis was investigated using microarray analysis of 1225 grapevine ESTs, but differences in patterns of gene expression associated with dhurrin-positive and dhurrin-negative phenotypes were not identified.[1]


  1. Consequences of transferring three sorghum genes for secondary metabolite (cyanogenic glucoside) biosynthesis to grapevine hairy roots. Franks, T.K., Powell, K.S., Choimes, S., Marsh, E., Iocco, P., Sinclair, B.J., Ford, C.M., van Heeswijck, R. Transgenic Res. (2006) [Pubmed]
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