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Faes Pascal

Catabolism of proline and GABA in oilseed rape : impact of water and nitrogen deficiency

PhD defended december 17th, 2014
Direction: Carole Deleu & Marie-Françoise Niogret

Abstract:

In the context of climate change and recent regulation concerning nitrogen inputs, the oilseed rape yields may be severely decreased because its crop requires significant nitrogen supply to reach high yield performance. Moreover, as water deficit induces the accumulation of some nitrogen compounds in oilseed rape, it is likely that this could lead to diversion of significant amounts of nitrogen to the vegetative organs at the expense of the reproductive ones and therefore of the yield. In oilseed rape, the metabolic response to water deficit results in a very high proline accumulation and, to a lesser extent, an increased content of GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid), both these amino acids known for their response to many environmental stresses in most species. The objective of the work presented here was to determine how the metabolism of proline and GABA contributes to the nitrogen allocation during plant development under optimal conditions and under water stress and/or nitrogen depletion. To answer this question, we have chosen to characterize two major enzymatic pathways involved in the catabolism of proline and GABA, proline dehydrogenase (ProDH) and GABA transaminase (GABA-T), and assess the impact of water and/or nitrogen deficiency on these pathways. This study has required to preliminary identify the genes encoding these enzymes in order to initiate a functional approach. The results show the presence of multiple copies of ProDH and GABA-T genes in the oilseed rape genome. Analysis of their expression profiles suggests that sub-functionalization processes are occurring, leading to the specific expression of some copies in response to stress, and some in developmental processes. Comparison of metabolic profiles with specific profiles of transcripts allows us to hypothesize about the role of these pathways in management of nitrogen. The combined study of proline and GABA metabolisms suggests the existence of relationships between them. Finally, the use of seedlings allows - further studying the regulation of genes in the early stages of development - and highlighting the deleterious effects of the inhibition of GABA-T by a pharmacological approach. In conclusion these results supply information on the regulation of these two enzymes and provide answers about the functional roles of proline and GABA catabolisms in the management processes of water and nitrogen in oilseed rape. These works constitute a first step in validation process of these genes as putative candidates for oilseed rape breeding programs to select genotypes better adapted to future environmental conditions.