Indexed on: 01 Mar '05Published on: 01 Mar '05Published in: Plant physiology
Wood formation is a fundamental biological process with significant economic interest. While lignin biosynthesis is currently relatively well understood, the pathways leading to the synthesis of the key structural carbohydrates in wood fibers remain obscure. We have used a functional genomics approach to identify enzymes involved in carbohydrate biosynthesis and remodeling during xylem development in the hybrid aspen Populus tremula x tremuloides. Microarrays containing cDNA clones from different tissue-specific libraries were hybridized with probes obtained from narrow tissue sections prepared by cryosectioning of the developing xylem. Bioinformatic analyses using the sensitive tools developed for carbohydrate-active enzymes allowed the identification of 25 xylem-specific glycosyltransferases belonging to the Carbohydrate-Active EnZYme families GT2, GT8, GT14, GT31, GT43, GT47, and GT61 and nine glycosidases (or transglycosidases) belonging to the Carbohydrate-Active EnZYme families GH9, GH10, GH16, GH17, GH19, GH28, GH35, and GH51. While no genes encoding either polysaccharide lyases or carbohydrate esterases were found among the secondary wall-specific genes, one putative O-acetyltransferase was identified. These wood-specific enzyme genes constitute a valuable resource for future development of engineered fibers with improved performance in different applications.