Daucus carota as a novel model to evaluate the effect of light on carotenogenic gene expression
Carotenoids are synthesized in prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. In plants and algae, these lipophilic molecules possess antioxidant properties acting as reactive oxygen species scavengers and exert functional roles in hormone synthesis, photosynthesis, photomorphogenesis and in photoprotection. During the past decade almost all carotenogenic genes have been identified as a result of molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches utilizing Arabidopsis thaliana as the model system. Studies carried out in leaves and fruits of A. thaliana and tomato determined that light regulates carotenoid biosynthesis preferentially through the modulation of carotenogenic gene transcription. In this work we showed for the first time that light induces accumulation of psy 1, pds and zds2 transcripts in leaves of Daucus carota (carrot), a novel plant model. In addition, modified roots of carrots exposed to light accumulate zdsl, whereas the pds gene is highly repressed, suggesting that some carotenogenic genes, which are expressed in roots, are regulated by light. Additionally, light negatively regulates the development of the modified carrot root in a reversible manner. Therefore, this suggests that light affects normal growth and carotenogenic gene expression in the modified root of carrot plants. The molecular insight gained into the light-regulated expression of carotenoid genes in this and other model systems will facilitate our understanding of the regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis to improve the prospects for the metabolic engineering of carotenoid production in plants.