Synthetic conversion of leaf chloroplasts into carotenoid-rich plastids reveals mechanistic basis of natural chromoplast development

Briardo Llorente*, Salvador Torres-Montilla, Luca Morelli, Igor Florez-Sarasa, José Tomás Matus, Miguel Ezquerro, Lucio D'Andrea, Fakhreddine Houhou, Eszter Majer, Belén Picó, Jaime Cebolla, Adrian Troncoso, Alisdair R. Fernie, José Antonio Daròs, Manuel Rodriguez-Concepcion

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    46 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Plastids, the defining organelles of plant cells, undergo physiological and morphological changes to fulfill distinct biological functions. In particular, the differentiation of chloroplasts into chromoplasts results in an enhanced storage capacity for carotenoids with industrial and nutritional value such as beta-carotene (provitamin A). Here, we show that synthetically inducing a burst in the production of phytoene, the first committed intermediate of the carotenoid pathway, elicits an artificial chloroplast-to-chromoplast differentiation in leaves. Phytoene overproduction initially interferes with photosynthesis, acting as a metabolic threshold switch mechanism that weakens chloroplast identity. In a second stage, phytoene conversion into downstream carotenoids is required for the differentiation of chromoplasts, a process that involves a concurrent reprogramming of nuclear gene expression and plastid morphology for improved carotenoid storage. We hence demonstrate that loss of photosynthetic competence and enhanced production of carotenoids are not just consequences but requirements for chloroplasts to differentiate into chromoplasts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)21796-21803
    Number of pages8
    Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Volume117
    Issue number35
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

    Keywords

    • Carotenoid
    • Chromoplast
    • Differentiation
    • Phytoene
    • Synthetic

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