Nonsymbiotic hemoglobins are ubiquitously expressed in plants and divided into two different classes based on gene expression pattern and oxygen-binding properties. Most of the published research has been on the function of class 1 hemoglobins. To investigate the role of class 2 hemoglobins, transgenic Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) plants were generated overexpressing Arabidopsis hemoglobin-2 (AHb2) under the control of a seed-specific promoter. Overexpression of AHb2 led to a 40% increase in the total fatty acid content of developing and mature seeds in three subsequent generations. This was mainly due to an increase in the polyunsaturated C18:2 (ω-6) linoleic and C18:3 (ω-3) α-linolenic acids. Moreover, AHb2 overexpression led to an increase in the C18:2/C18:1 and C18:3/C18:2 ratios as well as in the C18:3 content in mol % of total fatty acids and in the unsaturation/saturation index of total seed lipids. The increase in fatty acid content was mainly due to a stimulation of the rate of triacylglycerol synthesis, which was attributable to a 3-fold higher energy state and a 2-fold higher sucrose content of the seeds. Under low external oxygen, AHb2 overexpression maintained an up to 5-fold higher energy state and prevented fermentation. This is consistent with AHb2 overexpression results in improved oxygen availability within developing seeds. In contrast to this, overexpression of class 1 hemoglobin did not lead to any significant increase in the metabolic performance of the seeds. These results provide evidence for a specific function of class 2 hemoglobin in seed oil production and in promoting the accumulation of polyunsaturated fatty acids by facilitating oxygen supply in developing seeds
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.