Browsing by Author "Ainasoja, Miia"

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  • Ainasoja, Miia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Plants produce a diversity of secondary metabolites, i.e., low-molecular-weight compounds that have primarily ecological functions in plants. The flavonoid pathway is one of the most studied biosynthetic pathways in plants. In order to understand biosynthetic pathways fully, it is necessary to isolate and purify the enzymes of the pathways to study individual steps and to study the regulatory genes of the pathways. Chalcone synthases are key enzymes in the formation of several groups of flavonoids, including anthocyanins. In this study, a new chalcone synthase enzyme (GCHS4), which may be one of the main contributors to flower colour, was characterised from the ornamental plant Gerbera hybrida. In addition, four chalcone synthase-like genes and enzymes (GCHS17, GCHS17b, GCHS26 and GCHS26b) were studied. Spatial expression of the polyketide synthase gene family in gerbera was also analysed with quantitative RT-PCR from 12 tissues, including several developmental stages and flower types. A previously identified MYB transcription factor from gerbera, GMYB10, which regulates the anthocyanin pathway, was transferred to gerbera and the phenotypes were analysed. Total anthocyanin content and anthocyanidin profiles of control and transgenic samples were compared spectrophotometrically and with HPLC. The overexpression of GMYB10 alone was able to change anthocyanin pigmentation: cyanidin pigmentation was induced and pelargonidin pigmentation was increased. The gerbera 9K cDNA microarray was used to compare the gene expression profiles of transgenic tissues against the corresponding control tissues to reveal putative target genes for GMYB10. GMYB10 overexpression affected the expression of both early and late biosynthetic genes in anthocyanin-accumulating transgenic tissues, including the newly isolated gene GCHS4. Two new MYB domain factors, named as GMYB11 and GMYB12, were also upregulated. Gene transfer is not only a powerful tool for basic research, but also for plant breeding. However, crop improvement by genetic modification (GM) remains controversial, at least in Europe. Many of the concerns relating to both human health and to ecological impacts relate to changes in the secondary metabolites of GM crops. In the second part of this study, qualitative and quantitative differences in cytotoxicity and metabolic fingerprints between 225 genetically modified Gerbera hybrida lines and 42 non-GM Gerbera varieties were compared. There was no evidence for any major qualitative and quantitative changes between the GM lines and non-GM varieties. The developed cell viability assays offer also a model scheme for cell-based cytotoxicity screening of a large variety of GM plants in standardized conditions.