Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 991–1000 | Cite as

Senescence-induced expression of ZmSUT1 in cotton delays leaf senescence while the seed coat-specific expression increases yield

  • Xiaoyan Ding
  • Jianyan Zeng
  • Liang Huang
  • Xianbi Li
  • Shuiqing Song
  • Yan PeiEmail author
Original Article


Key message

Sink-specific expression of a sucrose transporter protein gene from the C4 plant maize can promote carbohydrate accumulation in target tissues and increase both fiber and seed yield of cotton.


Sucrose is the principal form of photosynthetic products transported from source tissue to sink tissue in higher plants. Enhancing the partition of carbohydrate to the target organ is a promising way to improve crop productivity. The C4 plant Zea mays exhibits a substantially higher rate of export of photosynthates than many C3 plants, and its sucrose transporter protein ZmSut1 displays important role in sucrose allocation. To investigate how use of ZmSUT1 gene to increase the fiber and seed yield of cotton, in this study, we expressed the gene in cotton under a senescence-inducible promoter PSAG12 and a seed coat-specific promoter BAN, respectively. We show that senescence-induced expression of ZmSUT1 results in an increase of sugar accumulation in leaves. Although the leaf senescence was postponed in PSAG12::ZmSUT1 cotton, the photosynthetic rate of the leaves was decreased. In contrast, seed coat-specific expression of the gene leads to an increase of sugar accumulation in fibers and bolls, and the leaf of transgenic BAN::ZmSUT1 cotton displayed higher photosynthetic capacity than the wild type. Importantly, both fiber and seed yield of transgenic BAN::ZmSUT1 cotton are significantly enhanced. Our data indicate the potential of enhancing yield of carbohydrate crops by the regulation of sugar partitioning.


ZmSUT1 Sugar partition Leaf senescence Cotton seed Fiber yield 



This study was funded by National Major Project of Breeding of China (2016YFD0100505 to YP and 2018YFD0100403 to XL), National Transgenic New Species Breeding Major Project of China (2016ZX08005-003-004 to YP) and Natural Science Foundation of China (31130039 to YP).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

299_2019_2421_MOESM1_ESM.docx (45 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 44 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoyan Ding
    • 1
  • Jianyan Zeng
    • 1
  • Liang Huang
    • 1
  • Xianbi Li
    • 1
  • Shuiqing Song
    • 1
  • Yan Pei
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Biotechnology Research CenterSouthwest UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China

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