Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 116, Issue 1–3, pp 1167–1182 | Cite as

Expression of UDP-glucose dehydrogenase reduces cell-wall polysaccharide concentration and increases xylose content in alfalfa stems

  • Deborah A. SamacEmail author
  • Lynn Litterer
  • Glena Temple
  • Hans-Joachim G. Jung
  • David A. Somers
Session 6B— Plant Biotechnology and Feedstock Genomics


The primary cell-wall matrix of most higher plants is composed of large amounts of uronic acids, primarily d-galacturonic acid residues in the back-bone of pectic polysaccharides. Uridine diphosphate (UDP)-glucose dehydrogenase is a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of uronic acids. We produced transgenic alfalfa (Medicago sativa) plants expressing a soybean UDP-glucose dehydrogenase cDNA under the control of two promoters active in alfalfa vascular tissues. In initial greenhouse experiments, enzyme activity in transgenic lines was up to seven-fold greater than in nontransformed control plants; however, field-grown transgenic plants had only a maximum of 1.9-fold more activity than the control. Cell-wall polysaccharide content was lower and Klason lignin content was higher in transgenics compared to the nontransformed control. No significant increase in pectin or uronic acids in the polysaccharide fraction was observed in any line. Xylose increased 15% in most transgenic lines and mannose concentration decreased slightly in all lines. Because of the complexity of pectic polysaccharides and sugar biosynthesis, it may be necessary to manipulate multiple steps in carbohydrate metabolism to alter the pectin content of alfalfa.

Index Entries

Carbohydrate forage homogalacturonan lucerne protein utilization 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah A. Samac
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lynn Litterer
    • 3
  • Glena Temple
    • 4
  • Hans-Joachim G. Jung
    • 1
    • 3
  • David A. Somers
    • 3
  1. 1.USDA-ARS-Plant Science ResearchUniversity of MinnesotaSt. Paul
  2. 2.Department of Plant PathologyUniversity of MinnesotaSt. Paul
  3. 3.Department of Agronomy and Plant GeneticsUniversity of MinnesotaSt. Paul
  4. 4.Biology DepartmentViterbo UniversityLa Crosse

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