Over-expression of a YUCCA-Like Gene Results in Altered Shoot and Stolon Branching and Reduced Potato Tuber Size


Auxin is known to be involved in various developmental processes, including meristem identity, shoot branching and initiation of potato tubers. The previously identified StYUCCA8 gene in potato that exhibits a peak in gene expression after tuber induction and prior to tuber swelling was cloned and over-expressed in order to study the effects of altered auxin content on shoot and stolon architecture and tuber development. The potato plants transformed with the 35S::StYUCCA8 construct exhibited increased shoot and stolon branching, reduced leaf size, lower average tuber fresh weight and enhanced adventitious and lateral root formation. Investigation of the IAA content revealed that the concentration of auxin was not altered in the shoot apex but was significantly lower in the basal part of the stem despite the several 100-fold increase of expression of the StYUCCA8 gene in three independent transgenic clones. This is the first time a potato YUCCA gene is used in an experiment in order to identify the role of endogenous auxin biosynthesis in potato plant development. Our research helps elucidate the importance of small changes of auxin content on several developmental events of the potato plant, such as shoot, stolon and root architecture.