Triterpenoids in aerenchymatous phellem contribute to internal root aeration and waterlogging adaptability in soybeans

Hirokazu Takahashi, Chisato Abo, Hayato Suzuki, Jutapat Romsuk, Takao Oi, Asako Yanagawa, Tomoka Gorai, Yukari Tomisaki, Mana Jitsui, Satoshi Shimamura, Hitoshi Mori, Akito Kaga, Masao Ishimoto, Hikaru Seki, Toshiya Muranaka, Mikio Nakazono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soybeans (Glycine max) develop newly differentiated aerenchymatous phellem (AP) in response to waterlogging stress. AP is formed in the hypocotyl and root, thus contributing to internal aeration and adaptation to waterlogging for several legumes. Extensive accumulation of triterpenoids – lupeol and betulinic acid – has been identified in AP. However, their physiological roles in plants remain unclarified. Lupeol is converted from 2,3-oxidosqualene by lupeol synthase (LUS) and oxidized to betulinic acid. Notably, soybeans have two LUS genes (GmLUS1 and GmLUS2). Functional analysis was performed to reveal the biological and physiological functions of triterpenoids in AP using lus mutants. The AP cells of lus1 mutant lacked triterpenoid accumulation and epicuticular wax. Lupeol and betulinic acid were the major components of epicuticular wax and contributed to tissue hydrophobicity and oxygen transport to the roots. Tissue porosity in AP was lower in the lus1 mutant than in the wild-type, which resulted in reduced oxygen transport to the roots via AP. This reduction in oxygen transport resulted in shallow root systems under waterlogged conditions. Triterpenoid accumulation in AP contributes to effective internal aeration and root development for adaptation to waterlogging, suggesting the significance of triterpenoids in improving waterlogging tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936-948
Number of pages13
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


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