Gill_et_al-2018-BMC_Plant_Biology.pdf (2.46 MB)

Low pyrrolizidine alkaloid levels in perennial ryegrass is associated with the absence of a homospermidine synthase gene

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posted on 2023-05-03, 12:06 authored by Geoff Gill, Catherine Bryant, Mikhail Fokin, Jan Huege, Karl FraserKarl Fraser, Chris Jones, Mingshu CaoMingshu Cao, Marty FavilleMarty Faville
Background Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are a class of secondary metabolites that function as feeding deterrents in a range of different plant species. In perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) the only PAs that have been identified are the thesinine-rhamnoside group, which displays significant genetic variation. Homospermidine synthase (HSS) has evolved from deoxyhypusine synthase (DHS) and catalyses the first step in the PA pathway, making it a key candidate for the investigation of genes influencing observed PA trait variation. Results During PCR amplification and sequence analysis of DHS we identified two putative HSS genes in perennial ryegrass. One of the genes (HSS1) was absent in some perennial ryegrass plants. Thesinine-rhamnoside levels were measured using liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry in a diverse association mapping population, consisting of 693 plants free of fungal endophytic symbionts. Association tests that accounted for population structure identified a significant association of absence of the HSS1 gene with lower levels of thesinine-rhamnoside PAs. HSS-like gene sequences were identified for other grass species of the Poaceae, including tall fescue, maize and sorghum. Conclusion HSS is situated at the crucial first step in the PA pathway making it an important candidate gene for investigation of involvement in PA phenotypic variation. In this study, PA level in perennial ryegrass was strongly associated with the presence or absence of the HSS1 gene. A genetic marker, developed for the presence/absence of HSS1, may be used for marker-assisted breeding to either lower or increase PAs in breeding populations of perennial or Italian ryegrass, as a potential deterrent to herbivore pests or alternatively as a means to decrease toxicity to livestock. The presence of HSS-like genes in several other Poaceae species suggests that PA biosynthesis may occur in plant family members beyond perennial ryegrass and tall fescue and identifies a potential route for manipulating PA levels.


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© The Author(s). 2018


  • English

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BioMed Central

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BMC PLant Biology




Gill, G. P., Bryant, C. J., Fokin, M., Huege, J., Fraser, K., Jones, C., Cao, M., & Faville, M. J. (2018). Low pyrrolizidine alkaloid levels in perennial ryegrass is associated with the absence of a homospermidine synthase gene. BMC PLant Biology, 18, 56. doi:10.1186/s12870-018-1269-6


Pastoral Genomics

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