Volume 5 Supplement 1

The 4th Recombinant Protein Production Meeting: a comparative view on host physiology

Open Access

Expression of trehalose-6-phosphate synthase gene from Arabidopsis thaliana in transgenic tobacco: a strategy to increase temperature stress tolerance

  • André de Almeida1,
  • Enrique Villalobos2,
  • Susana Araújo1,
  • Luís A Cardoso3,
  • Dulce Santos1,
  • José M Torné2 and
  • Pedro S Fevereiro1, 4
Microbial Cell Factories20065(Suppl 1):P88

DOI: 10.1186/1475-2859-5-S1-P88

Published: 10 October 2006


Genetic engineering of plants towards osmoprotectant accumulation is gaining increased importance within the broad context of abiotic stress tolerance [1]. An enzyme, trehalose-6-phosphate synthase, is believed to play a key role in the synthesis of the disaccharide trehalose and hence on the improvement of abiotic stress tolerance [2]. We used Agrobacterium to transform tobacco plants to express the trehalose-6-phosphate synthase gene from Arabidopsis thaliana, under the control of CaMV 35S promoter and using the vector pGreen 0229 [3]. Transgenic T2 plants were evaluated for gene expression by northern and western blots. Seeds were sown in media germinated at: 15, 25 and 35°C for evaluating germination rates under high and low temperatures.


Three of the transgenic lines obtained (B5A, B5H and B1F) have distinct levels of gene expression: B5H and B5A are high expressing lines while B1F is a low expressing one. In non-transgenic controls no expression was detected (Figure 1).
Figure 1

AtTPS1 gene expression analysis in WT and transgenic tobacco lines. A – Northern blot B – Western blot. In both cases, no AtTPS1 protein production was detected in control wild type plants while transgenic lines showed accumulation of AtTPS1 transcripts and enzyme. WT – Wild Type; B5A, B5H and B1F – Transgenic line. MW – Molecular weight markers (kDa).

Transgenic lines were shown to have significantly higher germination rates under low and high temperatures (respectively, 15 and 35°C) than wild type plants (Table 1).
Table 1

Germination rates (Number of seeds germinated per 100 seeds placed on germination medium) of three transgenic lines at three different temperatures.







99.0 a (1.0)

99.0 a (1.50)

99.0 a (2.00)

100.0 a (0.00)


32.3 a (4.1)

95.0 b (3.97)

97.4 b (2.95)

97.0 b (2.80)


18.0 a (3.8)

88.0 b (7.9)

85.2 b (6.35)

83.2 b (5.9)

a, bPercentages with different superscripts indicate statistical significance (p < 0.05); Standard deviations are shown between parenthesis; WT – Wild Type plants; B5A, B5H and B1F – Transgenic lines


Our results demonstrate that transgenic plants accumulating trehalose-6-phosphate synthase have an altered phenotype that includes temperature stress tolerance upon germination. We suggest that AtTPS1 can be used to engineer important crop plants such as maize, wheat or rice to withstand different environmental stresses.



To Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia for funding this research.

Authors’ Affiliations

Laboratório Biotecnologia Células Vegetais, ITQB-UNL
Institut de Biologia Molecular de Barcelona
Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical
Departamento de Biologia Vegetal, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa


  1. Nuccio ML, Rhodes D, Mcneil SD, Hanson AD: Metabolic engineering of plants for osmotic stress resistance. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 1999, 2: 128-134. 10.1016/S1369-5266(99)80026-0.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  2. Romero C, Bellés JM, Vayá JL, Serrano R, Culiañez-Maciá FA: Expression of the yeast trehalose-6-phosphate synthase gene in transgenic tobacco plants: pleiotropic phenotypes include drought tolerance. Planta. 1997, 201: 293-297. 10.1007/s004250050069. 10.1007/s004250050069.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  3. Almeida AM, Villalobos E, Araújo SS, Leyman B, van Dijck P, Cardoso LA, Fevereiro PS, Torné JM, Santos DM: Transformation of tobacco with an Arabidopsis thaliana gene involved in trehalose biosynthesis increases tolerance to several abiotic stresses. Euphytica. 2005, 146: 165-176. 10.1007/s10681-005-7080-0. 10.1007/s10681-005-7080-0.View ArticleGoogle Scholar


© de Almeida et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2006

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.