Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC, EC 411.1.31) plays a paramount role in nodule metabolism and several reports have shown that PEPC provides substantial carbon for N2-fixation and N assimilation. To study the short- and long-term implications of reduced nodule CO2 fixation for N2 fixation in alfalfa, PEPC enzyme expression was reduced through an antisense strategy. The full-length root nodule-enhanced PEPC cDNA in antisense orientation driven by the nodule-enhanced AAT-2 promoter was transformed into alfalfa. Out of 105 transformed plants, 14 showed reduced in vitro nodule PEPC activity. Three plants were selected for further evaluation. RNA and protein blots showed reduced PEPC transcript and protein. Nodules of these plants also displayed reduced in vivo CO2 fixation. Total nitrogenase activity as measured by H2 evolution was reduced, although there was no change in apparent nitrogenase. The nodule electron allocation coefficient of antisense plants was reduced. All antisense plants accumulated less dry matter and nitrogen in a 6-week growing period under controlled conditions. The data confirm a strong interdependence of nodule PEPC and nitrogenase activity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
—This research was supported in part by NSF Grant No. IBM-9206890. Dr. Schulze is indebted to the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina for providing a grant for a 10-month study leave at the University of Minnesota. The program of the Akademie is funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie (FKZ LPD1996).
- Nitrogen fixation
- Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase