Manipulating volatile emission in tobacco leaves by expressing Aspergillus niger β-glucosidase in different subcellular compartments

Shu Wei, Ira Marton, Mara Dekel, Dror Shalitin, Efraim Lewinsohn, Ben Ami Bravdo, Oded Shoseyov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Expression of the Aspergillus niger β-glucosidase gene, BGL1, in Nicotiana tabacum plants (cv. Xanthi) had a profound effect on the volatile emissions of intact and crushed leaves. BGL1 was expressed under the control of the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter and targeted to the cytoplasm, cell wall, lytic vacuole (LV), chloroplast or endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Subcellular localization was confirmed by gold immunolabelling, followed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Significant β-glucosidase activity was observed in transgenic plants expressing BGL1 in the cell wall, LV and ER. Compared with controls, all intact transgenic leaves were found to emit increased levels of 2-ethylhexanol, as determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of the headspace volatiles. Plants expressing BGL1 in the cell wall (Tcw) emitted more trans-caryophyllene than did non-transgenic controls, whereas plants expressing BGL1 in the ER (Ter) and LV (Tvc) emitted more cembrene than did non-transgenic controls. Volatiles released from crushed transgenic leaves and collected with solid-phase microextraction (SPME) polydimethylsiloxane fibre were distinctly enhanced. Significant increases in linalool, nerol, furanoid cis-linalool oxide, 4-methyl-1-pentanol, 6-methyl-hept-5-en-2-ol and 2-ethylhexanol were detected in transgenic plants when compared with wild-type controls. 3-Hydroxyl-β-ionone levels were increased in crushed Tcw and Ter leaves, but were undetectable in Tvc leaves. The addition of glucoimidazole, a β-glucosidase inhibitor, abolished the increased emission of these volatiles. These results indicate that the expression of a fungal β-glucosidase gene in different subcellular compartments has the potential to affect the emission of plant volatiles, and thereby to modify plant-environment communication and aroma of agricultural products.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)341-350
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Compartmentation
  • Glycosides
  • Headspace
  • Scent
  • Volatiles
  • β-glucosidase


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