Loss of the chloroplast transit peptide from an ancestral C3 carbonic anhydrase is associated with C4 evolution in the grass genus Neurachne

Harmony Clayton, Montserrat Saladié, Vivien Rolland, Robert Sharwood, Terry Macfarlane, Martha Ludwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Neurachne is the only known grass lineage containing closely related C3, C3-C4intermediate, and C4species, making it an ideal taxon with which to study the evolution of C4photosynthesis in the grasses. To begin dissecting the molecular changes that led to the evolution of C4photosynthesis in this group, the complementary DNAs encoding four distinct β-carbonic anhydrase (CA) isoforms were characterized from leaf tissue of Neurachne munroi (C4), Neurachne minor (C3-C4), and Neurachne alopecuroidea (C3). Two genes (CA1 and CA2) each encode two different isoforms: CA1a/CA1b and CA2a/CA2b. Transcript analyses found that CA1 messenger RNAs were significantly more abundant than transcripts from the CA2 gene in the leaves of each species examined, constituting ∼99% of all β-CA transcripts measured. Localization experiments using green fluorescent protein fusion constructs showed that, while CA1b is a cytosolic CA in all three species, the CA1a proteins are differentially localized. The N. alopecuroidea and N. minor CA1a isoforms were imported into chloroplasts of Nicotiana benthamiana leaf cells, whereas N. munroi CA1a localized to the cytosol. Sequence analysis indicated an 11-amino acid deletion in the amino terminus of N. munroi CA1a relative to the C3and C3-C4proteins, suggesting that chloroplast targeting of CA1a is the ancestral state and that loss of a functional chloroplast transit peptide in N. munroi CA1a is associated with the evolution of C4photosynthesis in Neurachne spp. Remarkably, this mechanism is homoplastic with the evolution of the C4-associated CA in the dicotyledonous genus Flaveria, although the actual mutations in the two lineages differ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1648-1658
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Physiology
Volume173
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

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