Elucidating the role of SWEET13 in phloem loading of the C4 grass Setaria viridis

Lily Chen, Diep R. Ganguly, Sarah H. Shafik, Maria Ermakova, Barry J. Pogson, Christopher P.L. Grof, Robert E. Sharwood, Robert T. Furbank

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Photosynthetic efficiency and sink demand are tightly correlated with rates of phloem loading, where maintaining low cytosolic sugar concentrations is paramount to prevent the downregulation of photosynthesis. Sugars Will Eventually be Exported Transporters (SWEETs) are thought to have a pivotal role in the apoplastic phloem loading of C4 grasses. SWEETs have not been well studied in C4 species, and their investigation is complicated by photosynthesis taking place across two cell types and, therefore, photoassimilate export can occur from either one. SWEET13 homologues in C4 grasses have been proposed to facilitate apoplastic phloem loading. Here, we provide evidence for this hypothesis using the C4 grass Setaria viridis. Expression analyses on the leaf gradient of C4 species Setaria and Sorghum bicolor show abundant transcript levels for SWEET13 homologues. Carbohydrate profiling along the Setaria leaf shows total sugar content to be significantly higher in the mature leaf tip compared with the younger tissue at the base. We present the first known immunolocalization results for SvSWEET13a and SvSWEET13b using novel isoform-specific antisera. These results show localization to the bundle sheath and phloem parenchyma cells of both minor and major veins. We further present the first transport kinetics study of C4 monocot SWEETs by using a Xenopus laevis oocyte heterologous expression system. We demonstrate that SvSWEET13a and SvSWEET13b are high-capacity transporters of glucose and sucrose, with a higher apparent Vmax for sucrose, compared with glucose, typical of clade III SWEETs. Collectively, these results provide evidence for an apoplastic phloem loading pathway in Setaria and possibly other C4 species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-632
Number of pages18
JournalThe Plant Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes

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