We compared gene expression levels for enzymes of carbohydrate metabolism in the twig xylem of two Populus species with the seasonal levels of starch and soluble sugars (sucrose, glucose, and fructose) and relative levels of the enzymes. Plants of Populus deltoides Bartr. ex Marsh and P. balsamifera L., 3-4 years old, were grown outside in Lubbock, TX, USA in 43 L pots. The xylem in the middle portion of the twigs was sampled during the dormant period (November-February), at bud break (for P. balsamifera), and during the growth flush (April-July). The gene expression for ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (AGPase), sucrose synthase (SuSy), and sucrose-phosphate synthase (SPS) generally coincided with the levels of the carbohydrates in whose metabolism these enzymes are involved. Gene expression for AGPase and its protein levels were high when the xylem starch content was high (growing period). However, P. balsamifera maintained high AGPase levels in dormant and growing twigs, unlike P. deltoides whose dormant twigs had low AGPase and low gene expression. Compared to growing twigs, gene expression for SuSy and SPS and their protein levels were higher in dormant twigs when soluble sugar content was higher. No down-regulation of these genes appears to occur when pools of the associated carbohydrates are high. Contrary to our expectation, the gene expression for β-amylase was highest in growing twigs when starch content was high. High β-amylase gene expression in growing twigs may be involved in maintaining a sufficient level of soluble sugars for growth through possibly controlling the extent of starch accumulation.
- ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase
- Gene expression
- Sucrose synthase
- Sucrose-phosphate synthase
- Xylem carbohydrate