Temporal and spatial expression of fatty acid and lipid biosynthetic genes are associated with the accumulation of storage lipids in the seeds of oil plants. In jatropha (Jatropha curcas L.), a potential biofuel plant, the storage lipids are mainly synthesized and accumulated in the endosperm of seeds. Although the fatty acid and lipid biosynthetic genes in jatropha have been identified, the expression of these genes at different developing stages of endosperm has not been systemically investigated.
Transmission electron microscopy study revealed that the oil body formation in developing endosperm of jatropha seeds initially appeared at 28 days after fertilization (DAF), was actively developed at 42 DAF and reached to the maximum number and size at 56 DAF. Sixty-eight genes that encode enzymes, proteins or their subunits involved in fatty acid and lipid biosynthesis were identified from a normalized cDNA library of jatropha developing endosperm. Gene expression with quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis demonstrated that the 68 genes could be collectively grouped into five categories based on the patterns of relative expression of the genes during endosperm development. Category I has 47 genes and they displayed a bell-shaped expression pattern with the peak expression at 28 or 42 DAF, but low expression at 14 and 56 DAF. Category II contains 8 genes and expression of the 8 genes was constantly increased from 14 to 56 DAF. Category III comprises of 2 genes and both genes were constitutively expressed throughout endosperm development. Category IV has 9 genes and they showed a high expression at 14 and 28 DAF, but a decreased expression from 42 to 56 DAF. Category V consists of 2 genes and both genes showed a medium expression at 14 DAF, the lowest expression at 28 or 42 DAF, and the highest expression at 56 DAF. In addition, genes encoding enzymes or proteins with similar function were differentially expressed during endosperm development.
The formation of oil bodies in jatropha endosperm is developmentally regulated. The expression of the majority of fatty acid and lipid biosynthetic genes is highly consistent with the development of oil bodies and endosperm in jatropha seeds, while the genes encoding enzymes with similar function may be differentially expressed during endosperm development. These results not only provide the initial information on spatial and temporal expression of fatty acid and lipid biosynthetic genes in jatropha developing endosperm, but are also valuable to identify the rate-limiting genes for storage lipid biosynthesis and accumulation during seed development.
Keywords: Fatty acid and lipid biosynthesis, Jatropha curcas, Endosperm development, Oil body, Gene expression, Real-time PCR