Expression of a Trichoderma reesei β-1,4 endo-xylanase in tall fescue modifies cell wall structure and digestibility and elicits pathogen defence responses

Marcia M. de O Buanafina, Timothy Langdon, Sue Dalton, Phillip Morris

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An endo-xylanase from Trichoderma reesei (xyn2) has been expressed in tall fescue targeted to the vacuole, apoplast or Golgi, constitutively under the control of the rice actin promoter, and to the apoplast under the control of a senescence enhanced gene promoter. Constitutive xylanase expression in the vacuole, apoplast, and golgi, resulted in only a small number of plants with low enzyme activities and in reduced plant growth in apoplast, and golgi targeted plants. Constitutive expression in the apoplast also resulted in increased levels of cell wall bound hydroxycinnamic acid monomers and dimers, but no significant effect on cell wall xylose or arabinose content. In situ constitutive xylanase expression in the Golgi also resulted in increased ferulate dimers. However, senescence induced xylanase expression in the apoplast was considerably higher and did not affect plant growth or the level of monomeric hydroxycinnamic acids or lignin in the cell walls. These plants also showed increased levels of ferulate dimers, and decreased levels of xylose with increased levels of arabinose in their cell walls. While the release of cell wall hydroxycinnamic acids on self digestion was enhanced in these plants in the presence of exogenously applied ferulic acid esterase, changes in cell wall composition resulted in decreases in both tissue digestibility and cellulase mediated sugar release. In situ detection of H2O2 production mediated by ethylene release in leaves of plants expressing apoplast xylanase could be leading to increased dimerisation. High-level xylanase expression in the apoplast also resulted in necrotic lesions on the leaves. Together these results indicate that xylanase expression in tall fescue may be triggering plant defence responses analogous to foliar pathogen attack mediated by ethylene and H2O2.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1757-1774
Number of pages18
Issue number6
Early online date10 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2012


  • cell wall structure
  • digestibility
  • ferulates
  • pathogen responses
  • xylanase
  • Ferulates
  • Xylanase
  • Cell wall structure
  • Pathogen responses
  • Digestibility
  • Plant Immunity
  • Ethylenes/metabolism
  • Hydrogen Peroxide/metabolism
  • Xylans/metabolism
  • Coumaric Acids/metabolism
  • Plant Leaves/chemistry
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Tobacco/genetics
  • Plant Extracts/chemistry
  • Endo-1,4-beta Xylanases/genetics
  • Trichoderma/genetics
  • Festuca/chemistry
  • Cell Wall/chemistry
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Plant Proteins/genetics
  • Lignin/metabolism
  • Plant Diseases/immunology


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